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Chemical speciation and extraction methods for fission products in Molten Salt Reactor

The molten salt reactor (MSR) was selected as one of the promising designs by the International Generation IV Forum for the next generation of nuclear …

7 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 40 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The molten salt reactor (MSR) was selected as one of the promising designs by the International Generation IV Forum for the next generation of nuclear reactors. Running on a liquid molten salt fuel as opposed to the current generation of nuclear reactors, the Molten Salt Reactor technology provides a safe and truly innovative concept. Moreover, it can be coupled to a thorium fuel cycle, which produces much less long-lived radioactive waste and allows a more sustainable energy production, as thorium is three times more abundant on Earth than uranium. However, before the Molten Salt Reactor technology can be realised, a thorough safety assessment of all components of the reactor must be carried out. In particular, understanding the chemistry of the liquid fuel and acquiring a thorough knowledge of its physical and chemical properties such as density, viscosity, heat capacity, thermal conductivity and vapour pressure, is essential. During irradiation, many fission products are generated, and corrosion products are expected to dissolve with time, making the fuel a complex, multi-component system. The MSR designs moreover implement a very innovative fuel management, which allows the control and the extraction of some of the fission products while operating the reactor. At present, helium bubbling is seen as the most promising technique for in-core removal of gaseous fission products (neutron poisoning elements) as well as noble and semi-noble metal fission products which are insoluble in the fuel salt.

The goal of this PhD will be to improve the understanding of the behaviour of key fission products and corrosion products in MSR fuel, and to establish the feasibility of noble metal particles extraction using helium gas and to evaluate the efficiency of the process. To achieve this, the candidate will perform research on the following two key lines:

• Thermochemistry and evaluation of the thermo-physical properties of key fission products and corrosion products. The candidate will develop a thermochemical model to describe the chemistry of the fuel and the most important volatile fission products, noble metals and their fluoride phases, and corrosion products. The required thermodynamic data for relevant sub-systems will be assessed coupling experimental measurements by calorimetry, ab-initio/molecular dynamics simulations, and CALPHAD thermodynamic modelling. In addition, the retention capacity of the fuel salt for volatile fission products will be investigated as a measure to reduce the source term. The work will involve a collaboration with NRG in Petten and the JRC Karlsruhe.

• Experimental verification of the formation process and extraction efficiency of metallic particles in molten salts. Following the results of a recent reconnaissance study on noble metal extraction by helium bubbling in simulant fluids, an experimental setup for molten salts will be developed to study the mechanisms of the process in further detail, which will serve as mock-up for future irradiation tests in the High Flux Reactor (HFR, Petten). The work will involve a collaboration with NRG in Petten.

As part of the PhD project, the candidate will supervise bachelor and/or master students, and will contribute to some educational activities.

This PhD position will involve a close collaboration between the Department of Radiation, Science and Technology (RST) of TU Delft, NRG in Petten (Nuclear Research & Consultancy group) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Karlsruhe (JRC Karlsruhe).


We are looking for an outstanding candidate with a master degree in Chemistry, Materials Science, Applied Science or a related field. Candidate should have an affinity for multidisciplinary fields of research and a hands-on attitude towards experimental work. Computer skills in simulation and modelling are also desirable. We expect creativity, flexibility and ability to co-operate within an interdisciplinary research group. Excellent communication skills, including good written and spoken English, as well as the ability to conduct independent scientific work are required. Delft University of Technology is a bilingual organisation; fluency in English is essential. 


TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit www.tudelft.nl/phd for more information.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Anna Smith, Assistant Professor, phone: +31 (0)15-2782106, e-mail: A.L.Smith@tudelft.nl. To apply, please e-mail 1) a detailed CV along with 2) a one-page letter of motivation 3) a grade list 4) contact information of at least two references to Mrs. Trudy Beentjes, Management Assistant, e-mail: secr-rpnm-TNW@tudelft.nl. Put everything in one PDF-file.

When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number TNWRST19-040.