Radiotomic Chemistry

Strahlen als Molekülschmiede

To put the decay heat of fission products to good use, it is planned to store them in a container enclosed by the lead loop. If instead their radiation is wanted, there is another possibility.

A high-power radiation source (kGy/s = 1000 Gray/Second; 1 Gray = 1 Joule of radiation energy absorbed in one kilogram of matter) is able to trigger chemical reactions by smashing molecules into aggressive fragments, which combine into new molecules. E.g. if compressed air is irradiated, nitrous oxides and ozone are created. Irradiation of methane and nitrogen results in hydrocyanic acid, carbon dioxide is dissociated into carbon monoxide. These toxins are indispensible raw materials for the chemical industry as building blocks for complex molecules. Their production is energy intensive. High-energy nuclear radiation induces these reactions with great efficiency.

In the industry, radiotomic effects are already in use, though using weak radionuclide gamma sources and thus low material flow. The container for the short-lived fission products of the DFR, releasing 30 MW of thermal power, is able to produce between 10⁴ and 10⁵ tons of chemicals by radiotomy per year. Alternatively, a custom-made DFR itself could be used: Its markedly higher radiation intensity would suffice to deliver large amounts of chemicals.