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Design and Verification of a Rotating Cylinder Electrode for Corrosion Investigation of Structural Metals in Nitrate Molten Salt
AuthorTownsend, Ty R
Materials Science and Engineering
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Global energy demand and consumption have been increasing due to concurrent increase in population and rise in the standard of living in developing countries. Our continued reliance on fossil fuels as a primary energy source to meet these energy demands is leading to more greenhouse gas emissions that will exacerbate the impact of global warming. With increasing acceptance of the threat of global warming, several nations have begun efforts to combat the threat of global warming through sustainable energy resources that do not emit greenhouse gases. To further increase the efficiency of sustainable energy sources, adaptations of traditional energy sources are used. For example, solar thermal power plants utilize molten salts as a heat transfer media to store heat for long periods of time to produce energy during periods of energy demand. Similarly, molten salt nuclear reactors as energy generation methods which utilize molten salts. Molten salt nuclear reactors are one of the Generation IV reactors that can operate at an increased temperature which leads to an increase in the Carnot efficiency. Also, these reactors are inherently more safe for operations by design. Molten salts are corrosive to structural metals that are used traditionally. For corrosion testing of metals in molten salts most studies utilize a static system. some newer studies utilize natural convection flow loops. Static and natural convection flow loops neglect the effect of real condition fluid flow on corrosion. In this study a rotating cylindrical electrode (RCE) was designed and constructed to simulate the effect of fluid flow in a molten salt environment. An increase in rotational speed of the RCE is directly correlated to an increase fluid flow. The RCE was first tested in an aqueous environment at rotation rates of 0, 75, 150, and 200 RPM to validate the design of the RCE. Following validation, the RCE apparatus was utilized in nitrate molten salt to test the corrosion resistance of stainless-steel 316 electrode using potentiodynamic polarization scans to observe the effects of rotational speed on the corrosion of the electrode. Changing RCE rotation rates showed visible changes in the anodic portion of the potentiodynamic scan, providing validation that an increase in fluid flow increases the rate of corrosion in a nitrate molten salt environment.