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J Environ Radioact. 2014 Feb;128:97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Dec 5.

The corrosion of depleted uranium in terrestrial and marine environments.

Author information

1
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, MBG23, Institute of Naval Medicine, Crescent Road, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 2DL, UK.
2
British Geological Survey, British Geological Survey, Kingsley Dunham Centre, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, United Kingdom.
3
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, i-SAT F, 102, Building 5, DSTL Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 OJQ, UK. Electronic address: acbaker@dstl.gov.uk.

Abstract

Depleted Uranium alloyed with titanium is used in armour penetrating munitions that have been fired in a number of conflict zones and testing ranges including the UK ranges at Kirkcudbright and Eskmeals. The study presented here evaluates the corrosion of DU alloy cylinders in soil on these two UK ranges and in the adjacent marine environment of the Solway Firth. The estimated mean initial corrosion rates and times for complete corrosion range from 0.13 to 1.9 g cm(-2) y(-1) and 2.5-48 years respectively depending on the particular physical and geochemical environment. The marine environment at the experimental site was very turbulent. This may have caused the scouring of corrosion products and given rise to a different geochemical environment from that which could be easily duplicated in laboratory experiments. The rate of mass loss was found to vary through time in one soil environment and this is hypothesised to be due to pitting increasing the surface area, followed by a build up of corrosion products inhibiting further corrosion. This indicates that early time measurements of mass loss or corrosion rate may be poor indicators of late time corrosion behaviour, potentially giving rise to incorrect estimates of time to complete corrosion. The DU alloy placed in apparently the same geochemical environment, for the same period of time, can experience very different amounts of corrosion and mass loss, indicating that even small variations in the corrosion environment can have a significant effect. These effects are more significant than other experimental errors and variations in initial surface area.

KEYWORDS:

Corrosion; Depleted uranium; Eskmeals; Kirkcudbright; Seawater; Soil

PMID:
24315120
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.01.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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