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WWW.HZDR.DE 04 05 TITLE // THE HZDR RESEARCH MAGAZINE Rust bumps with advantages But there's always a flip side. Corrosion can eat holes in the Pollux containers. Rust, however, has a much larger surface area than the iron from which it came. There's a good reason why a vehicle with such corrosion problems is called a "lump of rust" in the German vernacular. The significantly greater surface area thus emerges as an advantage, since chemical MODEL SIMULATIONS: Vinzenz Brendler uses the computer to calculate how radioactive heavy metals and their compounds spread under real environmental conditions underground, and which layers they have a hard time penetrating. Photo: Oliver Killig reactions work better when they have more space. "The larger surface area will therefore snap up many of the more aggressive compounds that have formed on the inside," Vinzenz Brendler explains. Here the pragmatism of the HZDR researcher surfaces once more: Such a large, corroded surface may indeed hold back many compounds from the interior, but surely not all of them. Once they have left the container, the substances will come in contact with a whole mountain of possible reaction partners that are present in varying forms underground. Here, for example, it may come in contact with the common mineral calcite, which will react with the highly poisonous uranyl compounds. This produces, among other things, uranyl carbonate. This substance does not dissolve well in water, is therefore seldom transported further, and is only rarely absorbed by plants.