Radiolysis of ionic liquids and molten salts: challenges and successes in the energy domain
Ionic liquids have important potential applications in the recycling of used nuclear fuel, and as battery electrolytes, lubricants and ion thruster fuel in spacecraft. Being comprised entirely of charged species, ionic liquids and molten salts have dramatically different properties than those of conventional molecular liquids. They provide new and unusual environments to test our understanding of physical chemistry phenomena.
These unusual properties influence physical and dynamical processes that determine the stability and lifetimes of reactive intermediates and thereby affect the courses of reactions and product distributions that have consequences in multiple areas of primary and applied radiation chemistry. In addition, molten salts are proposed as liquid fuel in a new generation of molten salt nuclear reactors with operational and safety advantages over present systems. In both cases, understanding the effects of radiation exposure (radiolysis) is essential to reliable use in sustainable energy applications.