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Design Considerations - index
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Le Chatelier' Principle


DOE-HDBK-1132-99
But, because a classic inorganic chemical reaction like that depicted in
Equation (7) can be expected to reach equilibrium in a time frame that ranges
from many hours to several days under the conditions normally found in nature,
classic inorganic chemical reactions of this type are not necessary for this
discussion.
Radiolysis Reactions. It was noted previously in Section 2.10.4 that the range
of the tritium beta is very short. As a consequence, it follows that virtually all of
the energy involved in tritium beta decay will be deposited in the immediate
vicinity of the atoms undergoing decay. When the medium surrounding the
decaying atoms is tritium gas, tritiated water, or tritiated water vapor in
equilibrium with its isotopic counterparts, reactions such as those presented in
Equations (8) and/or (9) bellow can be expected to dominate. When the
medium surrounding the decaying atoms is not a medium that would normally
be expected to contain tritium, however, an entire spectrum of radiolysis
reactions can be expected to occur.
For typical, day-to-day operations, the most common type of radiolysis
reactions in the tritium community can be expected to occur at the interface
between the air above a tritium contaminated surface and tritium contaminated
surface itself. For these types of reactions, some of the energy involved in the
tritium decay process can be expected to convert the nitrogen and oxygen
components in the air immediately above the surface (i.e., the individual N  2 and
O2 components in the air) into the basic generic oxides of nitrogen, such as
nitric oxide, nitrous oxide and nitrogen peroxide (i.e., NO, N  20, and NO2,
respectively). As the energy deposition process continues, it can also be
expected that these simpler oxides will be converted into more complex oxides,
such as nitrites and nitrates (i.e., NO  2s and NO3s, respectively). Because all
nitrite and nitrate compounds are readily soluble in water (and/or water vapor),
it can further be expected that a relatively large percentage of the available
nitrites and nitrates in the overpressure gases will be absorbed into, and/or
dissolved into, the mono-molecular layers of water vapor that are actually part
of the surface. (See " odeling the Behavior of Tritium"in Section 2.10.6,
M
below.) With the available nitrites and nitrates now an integral part of the
mono-molecular layers of water vapor, it can finally be expected that the most
I-95


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