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Digby Macdonald

Staff Researcher
4157 Etcheverry
Additional Affiliation: 

Professor in Residence, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley


1969     Ph.D., University of Calgary, Chemistry
1966     MSc, University of Auckland, Chemistry
1965     BSc, University of Auckland, Chemistry

Areas of Interest: 

Electrochemistry, corrosion science, battery science and technology, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, high temperature aqueous chemistry, nuclear power technology, energy conversion technology, and physical chemistry

Current Research Focus: 

Simulating Coolant and Corrosion Processes in Water-Cooled Nuclear Reactors

This research activity involves modeling the coolant circuits of water-cooled nuclear power reactors (BWRs and PWRs) over multiple fuel cycles, including the modeling of the thermal-hydraulics, the radiolysis of water, the electrochemical corrosion potential, and the accumulation of localized corrosion damage.  The corrosion damaging processes that are incorporated include those for general corrosion, pitting corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, corrosion fatigue, hydrogen-induced cracking (e.g., of Alloy 600 steam generator tubes), and flow-assisted corrosion.  The damage is predicted by deterministic "Coupled Environment Models" that have been developed and are being continually upgraded elsewhere in this program (see "Development of Deterministic Corrosion Damage Models").  To date, fifteen operating nuclear power reactors have been modeled.  The models are of particular value in assessing the corrosion damage consequences of choosing a particular operating water chemistry protocol that is characterized by specific chemistry parameters (e.g., coolant hydrogen concentration or Li/B in PWR primary circuits), thereby providing plant operators with a tool for choosing the most cost-effective and least risky procedures for operating a power reactor.

Development of Deterministic Corrosion Damage Models

In this program, mechanism-based, deterministic models for predicting the nucleation of localized corrosion events (pits and cracks) in reactor coolant circuits are being continually developed and updated for use in Damage Function Analysis (DFA), which is the first deterministic damage prediction protocol for predicting the evolution of corrosion damage in the coolant circuits of water-cooled nuclear reactors.  The "Coupled Environment Pitting Model (CEPM)", the "Coupled Environment Fracture Model (CEFM)", and the "Coupled Environment Corrosion Fatigue Model (CEPM)", and the the "Coupled Environment Flow-Induced Corrosion Model (CEFICM)" are based upon the differential aeration hypothesis and are "deterministic", because the predictions are constrained by the relevant natural laws (conservation of mass and charge and Faraday's law of mass-charge equivalency).  Damage initiation is predicted by the Point Defect Model, which describes passivity and passivity breakdown.  DFA has been shown to provide quantitative prediction of general and  localized corrosion damage in reactor coolant circuits and in other systems, such as low pressure steam turbines and oil and gas transmission pipelines.

Honors and Awards: 

1991 Carl Wagner Memorial Award from The Electrochemical Society
1992 Willis Rodney Whitney Award from The National Association of Corrosion Engineers
W. B. Lewis Memorial Lecture from Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.
H. H. Uhlig Award from The Electrochemical Society
U. R. Evans Award from The Institute of Corrosion, UK
20th Khwarizmi International Award in fundamental science
Wilson Research and Teaching Awards of the Pennsylvania State University
Fellow of NACE-International
Fellow of The Electrochemical Society
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Fellow of ASM International
Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation
Fellow of the Institute of Corrosion (UK)
Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry
US Air Force Science Advisory Board with the protocol rank of Lieutenant General, 1993-1997
US Air Force Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service in 1997
Trustee of ASM International
Doctuer Honoris Causa by INSA-Lyon, Lyon, France
Lee Hsun Research Award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Faraday Memorial Trust Gold Medal by CERC, 2012
Gibbs Award from the International Association on the Properties of Water and Steam (IAPWS), 2013
Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2011

Professional Activities: 

Assistant Research Officer at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
Lecturer in Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Senior Research Associate at Alberta Sulfur Research
Honorary Associate Professor at the Chemistry Department of the University of Calgary
Director and Professor of the Fontana Corrosion Center, Ohio State University
Vice President, Physical Sciences Division, SRI International, Menlo Park, California
Professor and later Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University
Visiting Chair Professor at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia