As the world advanced into the nuclear age, were nuclear energy became an alternative energy source to coal and petroleum products, the need to understand nuclear materials and their corrosion has become an important aspect of science. Understanding corrosion mechanisms, the systems and materials they affect became even more important for human and environmental safety after the Russian debacle in 1954 and the more recent Japanese Nuclear disaster in 2009.
The constant use of nuclear materials has made it important for nuclear corrosion to be taught and discussed in educational institutions. Therefore, if you are tasked with writing a narrative essay on nuclear corrosion, then this article will provide you with enough resources in terms of important facts which you can use to discuss or narrate your perspective on nuclear corrosion. Also, to adequately discuss nuclear corrosion, the mining of nuclear materials and the system put in place to manage nuclear activities must also be covered.
So here are 10 facts on nuclear corrosion:
- Corrosion in nuclear plants is a pertinent problem. The materials used in securing nuclear plants in other to ensure radiation is curtailed are always susceptible to corrosion and statistics show that the nuclear industry have lost approximately $10 billion due to nuclear corrosion. Therefore in other to keep nuclear plants safe and functioning in a stable environment, material corrosion must be dealt with.
- Corrosive resistant materials are used to secure nuclear plants. To manage nuclear corrosion, metallic alloys which are highly resistant to corrosion are usually employed in the different types of nuclear power plants. In pressurized water reactor power plants (PWR) and boiling water reactors, the main types of materials used to avoid corrosion are Inconels, Stainless Steel, Zirconium alloys and Copper alloys are great for building a secure environment.
- Nuclear metallic materials experience corrosion in time. Although some metallic materials are highly resistant to corrosion, this does not mean they are totally immune to it. These metallic materials tend to experience the following types of corrosion; stress control cracking, irradiation-assisted stress corrosion cracking, environmentally assisted cracking and microbiologically assisted cracking. Therefore, the state of metallic materials in Nuclear plants have to be accessed on a regular basis to note the possibility of corrosion occurring.
- The nuclear industry has developed techniques to combat corrosion. Due to a history filled with radiation management issues, stakeholders in the nuclear industries have come up with various techniques to eliminate the possibility of corrosion. The use of Titanium alloys in nuclear power plants has been successful in combating corrosion due to its very high resistance to the different types of corrosion. Also, facing the ageing issue facing nuclear power plants head-on with the quick replacement of ageing systems has helped stabilized the nuclear industry.
- US nuclear plants are the most secure from corrosion. Statistics show that in the United States, nuclear power is currently responsible for approximately 20 percent of the US electricity production capacity. There are also over approximately 100 power plants operating in the US. Regardless of the numbers, strict measure put in place regarding the construction on power plants and management of nuclear waste makes the US nuclear program the most stable and secure worldwide.
- Managing nuclear waste is a more important issue than nuclear corrosion. Advances in science have led to the discovery of corrosion resistant materials as well as a better understanding of the materials used in nuclear power plants. This knowledge has led to the increased stability of power plants worldwide. Today, while corrosion still remains an issue, solving the problem of disposing nuclear waste and managing disposal sites in order to keep the environment safe pose more problems than dealing with nuclear corrosion.
- Corrosion of nuclear materials has resulted in nuclear accidents. Corrosion of nuclear materials as well as human errors has resulted in some of the worst nuclear disasters worldwide. The notorious 1986 Chernobyl incident was in part due to the use of materials susceptible to corrosion in the nuclear plant’s reactor core. Other nuclear incidents which have led to environmental pollution have been due to corrosion of nuclear materials.
- Despite the problems associated with nuclear corrosion, nuclear power is still safe and secure. Statistics from case energy—an environmentalist organization—serves as proof that nuclear energy has the lowest impact on the environment and it is a safe and secure energy source. The statistics go on to show that nuclear energy provides approximately 64% of the carbon-free power supply across the US. Also the high regulative process of running a nuclear facility such as a 24hr use of inspectors makes nuclear power plants quite safe and secure from the ravages of nuclear corrosion.
- The building and management of nuclear power plants is economically beneficial. Nuclear power plants provide a level of economic growth most industries can only dream of. During the building phase, approximately 2,000 construction jobs are created through the construction phase. And after completion, the average nuclear energy facility employs 400 to 700 full time workers thereby providing jobs in its resident communities.
- Next-generation nuclear systems are being built to counter corrosion and human error. Over the last decade, nuclear material scientists and engineers have focused their energies in building next-generation systems which will be less reliant on fusion-type reactors. These next-gen systems will consist of high temperature reactors and a wide range of new materials developed to counter corrosion effectively and they will be the nuclear materials of tomorrow.
Here we come to the end of today’s interesting facts on nuclear corrosion, its causes and effects on the environment as well as the economy. To further help students write excellent essays on nuclear corrosion, two complementary reading materials — 20 topics for a narrative essay on nuclear corrosion and how to write a narrative essay on corrosion—will be included in this series. These reading materials are written to serve as samples which will provide you with enough guidelines to write your own narrative essays on nuclear pollution.
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Busby, J., Ilevbare, G. and Andresen, P. (2011). 15th International Conference on Environmental Degradation of Materials in Nuclear Power Systems–Water Reactors.
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Ramirez, J. (2012). ChemInform Abstract: Understanding Stress Corrosion Cracking of Welds in Nuclear Reactors. ChemInform, 43(35).