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Radiation induced corrosion of copper
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE).
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Strålningsinducerad korrosion av koppar (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The Swedish concept for storage of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is called the KBS-3 program. The proposed procedure is that the waste will be stored in a deep repository, 500 meters down in the Swedish bedrock, for 100 000 years. The fuel will be sealed inside cast iron cylinders surrounded by copper. The iron-copper canisters will then be placed one by one in holes and embedded in bentonite clay. The environment in the deep repository will be that of an underground rock cave, there will be groundwater and low amounts of oxygen present.

Substances which are likely to react with the copper canister and cause corrosion are oxygen, sulphides and reactive water radiolysis products. Gamma radiation from the spent nuclear fuel will penetrate through the canister and further into the bentonite clay. When the gamma radiation comes in contact with the water in the bentonite clay, water radiolysis will occur. Corrosive radiolysis products are for example hydroxyl radicals, solvated electrons and hydrogen peroxide.

The main purpose of this work was to study the effect of gamma radiation on copper pieces, in an aqueous environment, both under oxic and anoxic conditions. The surfaces of the copper pieces were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and infrared absorption spectroscopy (IRAS). The dissolution of copper was measured using inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy (ICP).

A second study was also performed where the reactions of three different oxidants; hydrogen peroxide, permanganate and iridium hexachloride, were studied in the presence of copper in an inert environment. All of the reactions were studied spectrophotometrically and the dissolution of copper was measured using inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy (ICP).

The SEM measurements showed corrosion products on the irradiated copper pieces both under oxic and anoxic conditions. Under anoxic conditions the corrosion products had a center of a small cavity which was surrounded by a larger, flat, circular area. From that area, wider cavities were spreading out in apparently random directions. SEM-EDS measurements detected oxygen on the surface of the corrosion products. ICP measurements of the water phase showed that the water from irradiated samples contained higher levels of copper than unirradiated samples. ICP measurements from the reactions of copper in the presence of oxidants showed that copper was only dissolved in the presence of iridium hexachloride.

These results show that gamma radiation causes corrosion of copper in an aqueous environment, both under oxic and anoxic conditions. It can also be concluded that hydrogen peroxide is not the radiolysis product that causes the dissolution of copper when copper is irradiated in an aqueous and inert environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 31 p.
Keyword [en]
Copper, radiation, gamma radiation, corrosion, SEM, IRAS, ICP, cuprite
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33335OAI: diva2:414499
Subject / course
Nuclear Chemistry
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering
Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics
Available from: 2011-05-03 Created: 2011-05-03 Last updated: 2011-05-27

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