The use of supercritical water (SCW) in GEN IV reactors is a logical approach to the ongoing development of nuclear energy. A proper understanding of the radiation chemistry and reactivities of transients in a reactor core under SCW conditions is required to achieve optimal water chemistry control and safety. A Monte Carlo simulation study of the radiolysis of SCW at 400 °C by incident 2 MeV monoenergetic neutrons (taken as representative of a fast neutron flux in a reactor) was carried out as a function of water density between ~0.15-0.6 g/cm3. The in situ formation of H3O+ by the generated recoil protons was shown to render the "native" track regions temporarily very acidic (pH ~ 1). This acidity, though local and transitory ("acid spikes"), raises the question whether it may promote a corrosive environment under proposed SCW-cooled reactor operating conditions that would lead to progressive degradation of reactor components.

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