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Corrosion of Ferritic Steels in High Temperature Molten Salt Coolants for Nuclear Applications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2011

Joseph Farmer
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livemore, CA 94550, USA
Bassem El-dasher
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livemore, CA 94550, USA
Magdalena Serrano de Caro
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livemore, CA 94550, USA
James Ferreira
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livemore, CA 94550, USA
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Corrosion of ferritic steels, including oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) variants, in high temperature molten fluoride salts may limit the life of advanced reactors, including some hybrid systems that are now under consideration. In some cases, the steel may be protected through galvanic coupling with other less noble materials with special neutronic properties such as beryllium. This paper reports the development of a model for predicting corrosion rates for various ferritic steels, with and without oxide dispersion strengthening, in FLiBe (Li2BeF4) and FLiNaK (Li-Na-K-F) coolants at temperatures up to 800 °C. Mixed potential theory is used to account for the protection of steel by beryllium, Tafel kinetics are used to predict rates of dissolution as a function of temperature and potential, and the thinning of the mass-transfer boundary layer with increasing Reynolds number is accounted for with dimensionless correlations. The model also accounts for the deceleration of corrosion as the coolants become saturated with dissolved chromium and iron. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy has been used for the initial in situ study of an ODS ferritic steel in high-temperature molten fluoride salt environments, with the complex impedance spectra obtained at its open circuit corrosion potential (OCP) interpreted in terms of the basic components of the equivalent circuit, which include the electrolyte conductivity, the interfacial charge transfer resistance, and the interfacial capacitance. Such in situ measurement techniques may provide valuable insight into the degradation of materials under realistic conditions.

Research Article
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2009

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