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South Bruce CLC hears from electrochemist Dr. Jamie Noël

September 5, 2020

At the September virtual meeting of the South Bruce Community Liaison Committee (CLC), the community and committee members received an educational presentation by Dr. Jamie Noël, an electrochemist and corrosion scientist with 31 years of experience in his field.

Noël is an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Western Ontario in London, and currently leads a team of students and fellow scientists who are researching and conducting experiments specifically on the corrosion of copper, carbon steel and other materials.

He outlined several potential corrosion processes of a used fuel container, which he and his 24-member Electrochemistry and Corrosion Science Research Group continues to investigate. This includes a number of hypothetical scenarios where corrosion – specifically that of copper – may occur, at what rates and under what circumstances.

This information and research are of interest to the CLC because the used-fuel containers being studied are designed with a copper coating, and are part of the multi-barrier system of a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) which may be sited in South Bruce for the long-term management of high-level nuclear waste.

Noël spoke to the interaction between copper and other elements, which would be unlikely or impossible in a DGR multi-barrier system.

“Confidence can be gained,” he said, “by looking at other existing examples of copper that show minimal corrosion in a variety of environments.” He referred to the example of a Swedish copper cannon, submerged under the ocean for approximately 300 years and the slow rate of corrosion it showed.

Following his presentation, Noël took questions from committee members.

Chairman Jim Gowland enquired about the thickness of the copper coating on a used-fuel container which is three millimetres. Noël explained that it would likely take one-million years to corrode just 1.25 millimetres of copper.



Used-fuel container, produced with a three-millimetre copper coating (photo courtesy of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization – NWMO)

Questions from community members can be directed to CLC co-coordinator Vivian Kennedy at sbclc@southbruce.ca and will be forwarded to Noël for his response.

The slide-show used during the presentation can be found in the CLC’s September agenda package on-line at http://clcinfo.ca/southbruce/meetings/.

Each month, the CLC welcomes educational presentations at its meetings, to discuss particular subject matter and offer knowledge in relation to the NWMO's Adaptive Phased Management site selection process.

The CLC will be hosting Megan Moore at the Oct. 8 meeting. She is an operations research analyst, and contributes to many projects which look at the potential impacts of Small Modular Reactors. She was one of the lead scientists working on a feasibility study on recycling CANDU fuel in 2016, and will be speaking on the results of that study and some of the challenges that were identified.

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