2018 commences with the fantastic news that two of our graduate students have been awarded 2018 Roy G. Post Foundation scholarships! This scholarship was established to help students develop careers in the safe management of nuclear materials. Congratulations to Dan Guo and Joseph Turnbull!
Dan's research work involves studying the corrosion behaviour of carbon steel, the material used for the inner vessel of Canada's proposed container for the storage of spent fuel. Although carbon steel corrosion is well studied, prediction of its progression in the storage environment is still difficult. One major reason for this is that the understanding of corrosion processes in the presence of ionizing radiation is limited. Another reason is that the required lifetime of the UFC is around a thousand to a million years. This duration is much longer than any laboratory experiments. Dan is currently performing modeling calculations of the predicted corrosion damage of the interior of the UFC, to determine the effect of different solution properties, such as pH, ionic strength, and O2 concentration on the corrosion process.
Joseph's research also relates to the proposed spent fuel container, but his work involves studying the corrosion of the external copper coating of the container, rather than the carbon steel shell. The overall goal of this wider project is to determine whether gamma radiolysis of water can influence the corrosion of a copper-coated steel nuclear waste container. The proposed use of a thin-walled copper-coated steel container makes it possible that corrosion could be radiolytically supported in the early stages of emplacement in the repository. The influence of radiation is being studied directly and by the addition to the exposure environment of chemical species that mimic the radiolysis products. Joseph's project involves electrochemical studies in small water volumes to study the effect of radiolytically produced nitric acid on the copper corrosion rate.