Zirconium is one of the few metals that retains its structural integrity upon exposure to radiation. For this reason, the fuel rods in most nuclear reactors are made of zirconium. Answer the following questions about the redox properties of zirconium based on the half reaction ZrO2 ?
H2O + H2O + 4e– → Zr + 4OH– ϐo = 22.36 V
a. Is zirconium metal capable of reducing water to form hydrogen gas at standard conditions?
b. Write a balanced equation for the reduction of water by zirconium metal.
c. Calculate ϐo, ΔGo, and K for the reduction of water by zirconium metal.
d. The reduction of water by zirconium occurred during the accident at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979. The hydrogen produced was successfully vented and no chemical explosion occurred. If 1.00 × 103 kg of Zr reacts, what mass of H2 is produced? What volume of H2 at 1.0 atm and 1000oC is produced?
e. At Chernobyl, USSR, in 1986, hydrogen was produced by the reaction of superheated steam with the graphite reactor core:
C(s) + H2O(g) → CO(g) + H2(g) A chemical explosion involving the hydrogen gas did occur at Chernobyl. In light of this fact, do you think it was a correct decision to vent the hydrogen and other radioactive gases into the atmosphere at Three Mile Island? Explain.

  • CreatedMay 05, 2015
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