Using first principles calculations, we study fundamental mechanism of spontaneous reduction reaction of Eu3+ to Eu2+ in eutectic LiCl-KCl molten salt. We decouple the reaction Gibbs free energy into enthalpy and entropy contributions by using rigorous thermodynamic formalism. Key structural features of the solvation shell are characterized by the radial distribution function and the coordination number. Compared with Eu2+, the Eu3+ ion has a more rigid framework of the solvation shells, corroborating its stronger electrostatic interaction with neighboring ligands of Cl− ions and a more favorable state on the aspect of enthalpy. Computations on vibrational frequency, however, pose significant contribution of vibrational entropy to the reaction Gibbs free energy for the reduction. Vibration frequency of Eu2+ is smaller than that of Eu3+, driving a more positive change of the entropy in the reduction reaction. Furthermore, an Eu2+ diffuses more quickly than an Eu3+ in the LiCl-KCl molten salt with switching mechanism of ligand Cl− ions in the solvation shell. Our results propose that the spontaneity of the reduction reaction is driven by the entropic contribution by overcoming the penalty of the reaction enthalpy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology