Abstract

Ever since humans discovered how to separate metal from its ore mineral, preserving its metallic luster has been a driving force in the advancement of materials science. In modern times, developing materials that will contain and isolate nuclear waste has pushed corrosion science to new limits. We must now predict corrosion rates over geologic time scales, upwards of a million years. This article reviews the electrochemical basics that underpin metal and mineral corrosion and uses that to understand the case study of copper corrosion in nuclear-waste containers. Electrochemistry can also explain electron-transfer processes on mineral surfaces and so offer insight into weathering and environmentally relevant natural redox processes, such as those forming supergene metal deposits.

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