Radiolytic hydrogen generation at silicon carbide–water interfaces

Jennifer Schofield, Sarah C Reiff, Simon Pimblott, Jay A LaVerne

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    While many of the proposed uses of SiC in the nuclear industry involve systems that are assumed to be dry, almost all materials have dissociated chemisorbed water associated with their surface, which can undergo chemistry in radiation fields. Silicon carbide α-phase and β-phase nanoparticles with water were irradiated with γ-rays and 5 MeV 4He ions followed by the determination of the production of molecular hydrogen, H2, and characterization of changes in the particle surface. The yields of H2 from SiC–water slurries were always greater than expected from a simple mixture rule indicating that the presence of SiC was influencing the production of H2 from water, probably through an energy transfer from the solid to liquid phase. Although the increase in H2 yields was modest, a decrease in the water mass percentage led to an increase in H2 yields, especially for very low amounts of water. Surface analysis techniques included diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFT), nitrogen absorption with the Brunauer – Emmett – Teller (BET) methodology for surface area determination, X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Little change in the SiC surface was observed following radiolysis except for some conversion of β-phase SiC to the α-phase and the formation of SiO2 with He ion radiolysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-50
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
    Early online date23 Nov 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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