Tag Archives: Seawater

Coastal homeownership has its own challenges

OWNING A home on the coast shouldn’t be a lesson in dreams gone wrong.

For Wayne Higson, the coastal environment offered peace, serenity and a place to get away from it all – until corrosion, wind and water created a nightmare in vacation homeownership.

“People don’t really know how bad things can get until they own a home in this type of environment,” Higson said. “You realize there’s no Yellow Brick Road to follow to get help.”

Higson, 58, of Greenville, N.C., built his dream vacation home in Emerald Isle, N.C., and soon realized the standard construction materials were not faring well in the weather.

He got tired of replacing exterior lighting every few months, and major costs kept creeping up, including repairing the corroded air-conditioning unit.

“Most people don’t know it, but water can run uphill on the Outer Banks,” he said. “Those high winds and water in every direction mean it has to go somewhere.”

For his years of hassle, hardships and heartache, Higson documented his efforts in a recently published book, “Coastal Homeowners: The Complete Photo Guide to Coastal Maintenance” (DWH Publishing LLC, 2011).

The book has more than 300 color photos, each illustrating problems and solutions that promise to help save time and money. Chapter highlights include hardware fasteners and nails, doors and windows, exterior siding and trim, winterizing coastal homes and hurricane preparedness.

“People have to remember that no matter how pretty the day is outside, the weather is taking a toll on their house,” Higson said. “The best thing to do is be prepared and know how to handle maintenance.”

Higson, a general contractor, started his quest in 1992 when he built his vacation home. For more than 10 years he collected information and 4,000-plus photos documenting his work.

“You can go to the store and buy a toaster that comes with directions in different languages, but if you buy a million-dollar home, you are on your own,” Higson said. “That’s just not right.”

In addition to advice and helpful tips, Higson also created a list of 110 manufacturers who sell, use or create coastal-friendly products. Their contact information is included.

“It’s so important to address these issues before they become a problem,” said Dave Barber, who works with Carolina Casual Furniture in Point Harbor and Kellogg Supply in Manteo, both on the Outer Banks, and owns Willington Grill Co.. “Rust is what kills a grill. If people know that before they buy, then they can choose a superior product. This book will help homeowners be better informed.”

Higson said he is already working on a second edition. He has taken more photos and logged different problems that he hopes to highlight.

SOURCE: http://hamptonroads.com/2012/04/coastal-homeownership-has-its-own-challenges

How seawater could corrode nuclear fuel

Japan used seawater to cool nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant after the tsunami in March 2011 — and that was probably the best action to take at the time, says Professor Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis.

But Navrotsky and others have since discovered a new way in which seawater can corrode nuclear fuel, forming uranium compounds that could potentially travel long distances, either in solution or as very small particles. The research team published its work Jan. 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a phenomenon that has not been considered before,” said Alexandra Navrotsky, distinguished professor of ceramic, earth and environmental materials chemistry. “We don’t know how much this will increase the rate of corrosion, but it is something that will have to be considered in future.”

Japan used seawater to avoid a much more serious accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, and Navrotsky said, to her knowledge, there is no evidence of long-distance uranium contamination from the plant.

Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, Navrotsky said, unless the uranium is oxidized to uranium-VI — a process that can be facilitated when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent.

Peter Burns, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of the new paper, had previously made spherical uranium peroxide clusters, rather like carbon “buckyballs,” that can dissolve or exist as solids.

In the new paper, the researchers show that in the presence of alkali metal ions such as sodium — for example, in seawater — these clusters are stable enough to persist in solution or as small particles even when the oxidizing agent is removed.

In other words, these clusters could form on the surface of a fuel rod exposed to seawater and then be transported away, surviving in the environment for months or years before reverting to more common forms of uranium, without peroxide, and settling to the bottom of the ocean. There is no data yet on how fast these uranium peroxide clusters will break down in the environment, Navrotsky said.

SOURCE:  http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-01-seawater-corrode-nuclear-fuel.html