Replacement not the best option

Visible or invisible, all industries suffer from materials degradation. So far, some industries have been able to get by with replacement as an easy and cheap option. However, that’s not practical for the future, with aging structures and the knowledge that comes to light as years go by.

“We do the best we can with what we know at one point in time, and then a few years later, find out we could have done better with different material,” Shoesmith says.  

With their research into materials degradation, Shoesmith sees important results for the nuclear industry, including improved understanding of the condition of materials within operating nuclear reactors and better container design for nuclear waste disposal. 

The research will also lead to developing more corrosion-resistant light materials. These might be used for fuel-efficient or electrically-powered vehicles, and improved steel microstructures to avoid oil and gas pipeline failures and control degradation of infrastructure such as bridges. 

“We see a safer, cleaner environment as a consequence of our research,” Shoesmith says.