# Will gamma radiation cause “thermal” decomposition of sodium bicarbonate?

I am conducting research for a new drug that contains powdered sodium bicarbonate, and the drug will need to be sterilized after placement into it's container/closure system. Typically, this is performed with steam, at 122.5 C for 15 minutes, but in the case of sodium bicarbonate, this would cause decomposition (into Na2CO3+H2O+CO2). The alternative is to sterilize with ionizing (gamma) radiation, and the question is: Will this also cause decomposition? Any help or referral to another authority is much appreciated.

• You may already be aware, but the term you're looking for is "radiolysis". A cursory Google search shows some results for bicarbonate radiolysis, but I haven't parsed anything. My instinct is that while it could theoretically cause some decomposition, almost all of the bicarbonate will remain intact in any reasonable sterilising gamma flux. Living matter is far more fragile than an inorganic salt. – Nicolau Saker Neto Dec 4 '18 at 9:14

There is an equilibrium between decomposition and recombination, i.e. as $$\ce{CO2}$$ is given off, it joins back to the $$\ce{Na2CO3}$$ to form $$\ce{NaHCO3}$$.
$$\ce{2NaHCO3 <-->Na2CO3 + CO2}$$