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Corrosion and Durability Research

NREL has customized apparatuses for materials synthesis processing, characterization, and testing. We evaluate corrosion and durability using our multiple high- and low-temperature materials durability research facilities. Read more on NREL's successes, projects, and publications on corrosion and durability.

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High-temperature corrosion: (a) High-temperature crucible furnace with controlled atmosphere electrochemical cell and instrumentation for corrosion evaluations. (b) High-temperature tube furnace with controlled atmosphere for weight-change corrosion evaluation.

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Low-temperature corrosion: (a) Electrochemical cells and instrumentation for low-temperature corrosion evaluations. (b) Rotating electrode to determine effect of mass transport on low-temperature corrosion.

The corrosion apparatuses are located in the Energy Systems Integrated Facility (ESIF), a state-of-the-art laboratory facility where we have full access to materials and components testing and characterization, in addition to a high-performance computing (HPC) system that can handle and analyze integrated data. The experimental and computational capabilities allow us to tackle scientific challenges covering the full range of energy systems.

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Sample preparation: (a) Low-speed diamond saw for sample cutting. (b) Grinder/polisher for sample preparation. (c) Automated polisher for sample preparation. (d) Glove-box to handle unstable samples.

NREL's corrosion/degradation evaluations focus on determining corrosion rates and mechanisms of systems. Our goal is to test corrosion mitigation approaches that we are developing to determine their efficacy.

  • We use electrochemical and conventional weight-change techniques. Controlled testing can be performed under a range of conditions, such as: different atmospheres, different temperatures (from room temperature up to 1,400°C), thermal cycling, and different fluids (molten salts, liquid metals, and aqueous solutions) and/or gasses.

  • Electrochemical reactions can be studied using galvanostat/potentiostat instruments with frequency-response analyzer.

  • Kinetic fundamentals of corrosion mechanisms are studied by several techniques, including cyclic voltammetry, linear polarization resistance, potentiodynamic polarization sweep, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

  • Metallographic characterization of materials and chemical characterization of the materials and fluids are used before and after exposure.

    • Metallographic characterization includes metallographic preparation of samples for top-view and cross-section analysis. The preparation for characterization involves sectioning, encapsulation, grinding, polishing, and etching. We perform the metallography characterization using optical and electron microscopy instruments, X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), among others.

    • Gas, dry, and wet-chemical instruments include gas and ion chromatographs, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). These analyses help to fully understand which elements are depleted, plated, permeated, and/or concentrated in the material—and how they are—during processes.

  • Differential scanning calorimeters that can go up to 1,500°C with two furnaces (Pt and SiC) and an autosampler (DSC 404 F3) from Netzsch. The thermogravimetric analyzer can go up to 1,200°C (TGA/DSC1 Stare System from Mettler Toledo). The high-temperature test unit supplies/withdraws thermal energy from heat-transfer fluids at a 30-kW power rating. We also do XRD with several electron microscopes (TEM, SEM), among other state-of-the-art characterization tools.

  • Our staff has considerable expertise using the Peregrine-HPC system in ESIF for techno-economic analysis, thermodynamic and kinetic modeling, and process modeling and analysis. We can model degradation-predictable behavior using our materials computational and modeling staff.

    • Peregrine has about 11,520 Intel Xeon E5-2670 "SandyBridge" and 14,400 next-generation Intel Xeon "Ivy Bridge" cores, plus an additional 576 Intel Phi Intel Many Integrated Core (MIC) core co-processors with 60+ cores each. The nodes are connected using FDR Infiniband. Peregrine delivers a peak performance of 1 petaFLOPS. Peregrine runs the Linux Operating System and has a dedicated Lustre file system with about 1 petabyte of online storage and an initial capacity of 3 petabytes of mass storage capability.

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Sample characterization: (a) Field-emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM). (b) Scanning electron microscope (SEM). (c) Keyence digital 1,000X light microscope. (d) Stereo microscope. (e) Inductively couple plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) for wet chemistry analysis of samples. (f) Thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA) on right and gass chromatograph (GC) for decomposition analysis of samples.