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Name of scholarship/program

Evaluation of the sustainability of long term molten salt plant operations for the processing of spent nuclear fuel

Important description
The development of a sustainable nuclear fuel refinement process is seen as essential in order to close the nuclear energy cycle, enabling the regeneration of nuclear fuel by the most clean, economic and resource efficient means with minimal waste. Electrochemical high temperature molten salt (MS) refinement methods, currently researched worldwide, offer a potential solution, but still with real unsolved materials challenges.

This project is partnered with National Nuclear Laboratory and will involve the commissioning of a Molten Salts Dynamic Rig (MSDR) which provides near plant-sized infrastructure for conducting the electrorefinement of rare earth metals (as an analogue for actinides) in high temperature molten salts at an industrial scale. The MSDR will be housed at the NNL-Workington site. Once commissioned and in operation, work will involve understanding salt speciation within the plant cycle and determining the corrosion behaviour of rig components in order to ascertain the long term sustainability of a molten salts refinement plant. The incorporation of novel electrodeposition methodologies and on-line analytical techniques, developed by the REFINE (a coordinated materials programme for the sustainable REduction of spent Fuel vital In a closed loop Nuclear Energy cycle) research consortium, into the plant design will be tested.

This project is part of the REFINE research consortium (www.refine.ed.ac.uk) which aims to deliver platform technologies which will enable the advance of molten salt applications for the adaptable processing of spent nuclear fuel from both current nuclear energy production and any future reactor systems (Gen IV). The consortium consists of the majority of the UK’s capability in high temperature molten salts research with partners from the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Nottingham and Manchester, University College London and National Nuclear Laboratory.

Eligibility and other criteria
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Application deadline
Applications accepted all year round

Additional information, and important URL
Direct funding for this project is provided by the EPSRC Nuclear EngD award and National Nuclear Laboratory, providing a standard EPSRC doctoral stipend (currently £13,590/annum) enhanced by a contribution from NNL (to be confirmed). Eligibility is restricted to UK/EU applicants.

Applicants should have or expect to achieve a 2.1 honours degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, materials or similar discipline. The ability to meet the security clearance requirements in order to work at UK nuclear licensed sites.

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