Standing 828 meters (2,717 feet) tall and boasting more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest structure: a single tower that will eventually house 12,000 people.

Downtown Burj Khalifa
Downtown Burj Khalifa

The significance of designing and building the tallest building on Earth, costing over AED5.5 billion (US$1.5 billion), has become a matter of national pride making the protection of this national asset a priority to the government of the UAE, investors, and the tourism industry.

“The combination of a 100 year design-life and the aggressive exposure conditions of Dubai’s environment were the reasons the designer had to carefully consider the durability of the tower’s sub-structure,” said Dr. James Aldred, of GHD Consulting Engineers, Manager of the Independent Verification and Testing Agency (IVTA) for the Burj Khalifa project. Substructures in Dubai, and in the Gulf region in general, are exposed to a shallow water table with high levels of salinity, which threatens the embedded steel reinforcement with corrosion.

To counter this risk, a high quality ternary blend concrete was used in the substructure of the tower, along with other durability enhancing measures to enable and ensure the desired lifespan.

Among those measures, a migrating corrosion inhibitor (MCI) supplied by United Corrosion Technologies was added into the concrete mix. MCI is developed and manufactured by the US-based Cortec Corporation, and utilizes bio-based renewable resources to provide corrosion protection to steel reinforcement.

“In our region’s harsh environment, steel reinforcement can corrode rapidly, threatening structural strength and necessitating costly repair. Good engineering practice in designing for durability goes a long way in preserving structures and saving operating costs.” said Usama Jacir, managing director of United Corrosion Technologies.