Finding the right material for a highly corrosive manufacturing process
Knovel helps a zirconium manufacturer quickly identify the metal best suited to prevent a corrosion problem in a pollution control system’s pipes, thereby avoiding potential HSE issues
To avoid the risks of a health, safety and/or environmental incident, a nuclear power company had to resolve a corrosion issue in a pollution control system at its zirconium manufacturing plant. A company chemical engineer used information in Knovel to identify pipe metals that could withstand highly corrosive compounds, enabling him to design, build and install new corrosion-resident piping without delay.
A U.S.-based nuclear power company operates a manufacturing plant that produces zirconium containers to hold nuclear fuel for use in nuclear power plants. The manufacturing process for the containers used a highly acidic solution, thus requiring a powerful pollution control system that scrubs chlorine. The company discovered that a section of piping in the pollution control system was corroding rapidly and had to be replaced right away.
A company chemical engineer was tasked with finding a piping material able to withstand the corrosive properties of sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide and chlorine gas. Speed was critical because the company would have had to suspend its plant operations if the corroding pipes began to pose a leakage risk.
The engineer used Knovel to access the Corrosion Survey, which provides information on the performance of metal materials in more than 1,500 different chemical environments under various exposure conditions. Knovel’s searchable tables and charts made it easy for the engineer to extract the performance data he needed from trusted sources. By helping him narrow down the candidates and refine his searches when looking for information in research papers, Knovel minimized research time. The information and insights from Knovel guided the engineer to a well-informed business decision about the type of pipes that should be installed.
Zirconium is the optimal metal for cladding nuclear fuel rods because it absorbs relatively few of the neutrons produced in a fission reaction.
After identifying the optimal material for the new piping, the engineer was able to design, manufacture and replace the pipes in the pollution control system, and do so in a short time frame and with minimal production downtime — and before corrosion caused a costly suspension of operations. The new piping required a capital expenditure of $1 million, but the new materials enabled the engineer to design it to last for up to 20 years. With Knovel’s help, the company achieved operational excellence while lowering the risk of a potential health, safety and/or environmental incident due to a pipe leak.
Knovel offered him foundational knowledge, including highly relevant information on pollution control systems, as well as insights into best practices.