Structures, Materials and Corrosion (SMC) Laboratory - Civil infrastructure testing facilities

National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Client-based research and testing on major construction materials (concrete, steel, etc.), the structures made from them, and their corrosion and durability

Areas of expertise

The National Research Council (NRC) offers a facility for integrated testing of lifecycle performance of infrastructure systems available for multi-year, on-site experiments on concrete structures and utilities across Canada. The NRC Structures, Materials and Corrosion (SMC) Laboratory offers research and technical services for Canadian Core Public Infrastructure (CPI) owners and construction industries, as well as other industries.

Working with NRC testing facilities, you benefit from our breadth of knowledge in, material development and evaluation, corrosion, structural analysis, earthquake resistance, lifecycle analysis, risk assessment and climate change impact. An established extensive network of industry and academic experts and expertise. In addition, our testing facilities are designed to help you assess lifecycle and performance in key infrastructure, helping you to improve product lifespan, prevent or pre-empt costly repairs, and identify the optimum approach and materials to be used for infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance.

Research services
  • Integrated testing and lifecycle performance evaluation for infrastructure systems
  • Concrete material and durability testing
  • Microscopic characterization and thermal analysis of construction materials
  • Corrosion evaluation of reinforcement in concrete structures
  • Corrosion evaluation of steel structures and bridges
  • Risk-based decision-supporting tool for ageing infrastructure management
  • Development of new concrete materials
  • Testing of structural elements and assemblies
  • Testing of ageing structures of coupled service loading and on-going corrosion
  • Impact testing
  • Seismic evaluation of structures and buildings
  • Finite element modelling
  • Infrastructure prototype evaluation
  • Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) of civil infrastructures
Sectors of application
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Defence and security industries
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Transportation
  • Utilities

Specialized lab



Concrete mixing laboratory


  • Drum concrete mixers
  • Pan concrete mixers
  • Mortar mixers

Preparation of concrete, mortars and cement pastes

Concrete physical testing laboratory

SATEC Testing Frame (2,000 kN)


Testing of mechanical properties of concrete and other materials. Capable of tensile and compressive testing.

Concrete physical testing laboratory

Tinius Olsen Testing Frame (60,000 lbs)

Testing of mechanical properties of mortars and related materials

Concrete physical testing laboratory

Rapid Chloride Permeability Test system

RCPT equipment. Testing of chloride permeability of concrete.

Corrosion laboratory

Solartron Potentiostats and Frequency Analyzers


Evaluation of corrosion performance of construction metals and alloys, reinforcing steel used in concrete structures, corrosion inhibitors, as well as coatings

Corrosion laboratory

Singleton Salt Fog Chambers

Evaluation of corrosion resistance of metals and alloys

Durability and service life assessment facility

Logan Freeze-Thaw Cabinets


Testing of freeze-thaw resistance of cement based materials

Durability and service life assessment facility

Unidirectional Freeze-Thaw Chamber


Testing of freeze-thaw resistance of cement based materials

Durability and service life assessment facility

Environmental Chambers (ESPEC and Envirotronics)


Accelerated aging of construction materials by heat, humidity and freezing conditions

Structures laboratory


Custom built load frames

  • Evaluation of medium and full scale structural elements and assemblies, including multi-directional loading
  • Capable of loading up to 1,000 kN horizontal and 2,800 kN vertical static and dynamic loads

Structures laboratory

MTS 810 Systems (Material Testing Systems)

Mechanical testing of structural elements (100 kN, 500 kN)

Structures laboratory

Instron CEAST 9350 Impact Tester

Impact testing of construction materials

Aging Structures Laboratory

Structural beam and slab testing frames and corrosion-simulation with DC current supplies

Simultaneously application of mechanical and corrosion loading on structural elements

Microscopy laboratory

Hitachi Cold Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope

Imaging and electron dispersive spectroscopy of materials (30x to 800,000x magnification).

Microscopy laboratory

Optical microscopes (Nikon and Carl Zeiss)

Digital imaging of samples using visible light (4x to 400x magnification)

Microscopy laboratory

CSM Scratch Tester and Micro Indenter

Automated microhardness and nano-scratch testing on a wide variety of materials

Materials characterization laboratory

Quantachrome Surface Area Analyzer


Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) theory surface measurement of particles and porous materials

Materials characterization laboratory

Malvern Particle Size Analyzer

Dry or liquid measurement of particles down to 100 nm in dimension

Materials characterization laboratory

TA Instruments Q500 Thermogravimetric Analyzer

Measurement of material mass loss and/or heat transfer as materials are heated (1200 oC maximum). Used to identify materials.

Materials characterization laboratory

TAM Air Isothermal conduction calorimeter

High accuracy heat flow measurement during exo- or endo- thermic chemical processes (e.g. cement hydration)

Cold Room

Large Cold Room

A -30 oC cold room capable of holding full scale test equipment

  • Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO)
  • Infrastructure Canada
  • Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ)
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Sanexen – Environmental Services Inc.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada
  • Department of National Defense