Failure of Nickel Anodes in a Heavy Water Upgrading Plant
Nickel anodes failed in several electrolysis cells in a heavy-water upgrading plant. Dismantling of a cell revealed gouging and the presence of loosely attached black porous masses on the anode. The carbon steel top, plate was severely corroded. An appreciable quantity of black powder was also present on the bottom or the cell. SEM/EDX studies of the outer and inner surfaces of the gouged anode showed the presence of iron globules at the interface between the gouged and the unattacked anode. The chemical composition of the black powder was determined to be primarily iron. Cell malfunction was attributed to the accelerated dissolution of the carbon steel anode top, dislodgment of grains from the material, and subsequent closing of the small annular space between the anode and the cathode by debris from the anode top. Cladding of the carbon steel top with a corrosion-resistant material, such as nickel, nickel-base alloy, or stainless steel, was recommended.