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Radiation-proof solvents for the nuclear industry
06 June 2006
Ionic liquids can withstand high doses of gamma radiation, and could be used to process nuclear fuels, say chemists in France.
Philippe Moisy at the French Atomic Energy Commission and colleagues irradiated two imidazolium-based room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) with gamma radiation. The researchers found that the density, refractive index and surface tension of the ionic liquids did not change, even after being exposed to very large doses of radiation. And only low levels of chemical decomposition took place via radical-based mechanisms, said Moisy.
According to the researchers, the unique properties of RTILs, such as their negligible vapour pressure, make them attractive for use in processing nuclear fuels. 'To be successful in such applications RTILs should be at least relatively robust to high radiation doses,' said Moisy. This prompted the team to investigate the stability of ionic liquids to gamma radiation, often released by nuclear fuel materials.
Buxing Han at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing noted the relevance and timeliness of Moisy's work. 'Studying the effect of gamma irradiation on the properties of ionic liquids is of great importance to the related applications of ionic liquids,' said Han.
L Berthon, S I Nikitenko, I Bisel, C Berthon, M Faucon, B Saucerotte, N Zorz and P Moisy, Dalton Trans., 2006, 8, 2539