Investigation of the corrosion of steel by lead-bismuth eutectic (Lbe) using scanning electron microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

Daniel Joseph Koury, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Lead Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) has been proposed for use in programs for accelerator transmutation of waste. LBE is the leading candidate material as a spallation target and an option for the sub-critical blanket coolant. The corrosion of 316 and 316L stainless steels by LBE has been studied using UNLV's facilities for Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). We have compared exposed and unexposed samples and studied the differences. Some amount of surface contamination is present on the samples and has been removed by ion-beam etching. The unexposed samples reveal typical stainless steel characteristics: a chromium oxide passivation surface layer and metallic iron and nickel. The exposed samples show protective iron and chromium oxide growths on the surface. Oxygen takes many forms on the exposed samples, including oxides of iron and chromium, carbonates, and organic acids from subsequent handling after exposure to LBE. This is a research project in progress, and accomplishments to date include comparing and confirming what is in the literature, as well as laying a strong foundation for further studies in this project.