The UK is a leading international centre of excellence in innovative research for national nuclear security through the AWE. Electrochemical routes for the processing of materials have great potential across a broad range of nuclear applications and the UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL) specialises in developing novel processes and technologies. Together, the AWE and EIL present an exciting PhD project at the interface between nuclear materials and electrochemical reactor engineering.
Pyroprocessing using molten salts offers a range of advantages when compared to aqueous processing. These include a smaller footprint of facilities, better criticality safety margins, and shorter cooling periods for irradiated fuel. The final product is normally of high purity.
UCL have pioneered the use of fluidised cathode electroreduction and successfully applied this system to challenging materials [1-3]. In this project, the ultimate aim would be to apply it to reduce a small quantity of plutonium oxide at AWE premises. The bulk of the project will be in reducing surrogate material oxides to their metal form using different precursor types, such as packed solid, liquid bed, and the fluidised cathode, with the objective of improving reactor and electrode design and performance along the way.
This fully funded EPSRC Industrial CASE studentship offers an excellent training / research opportunity for a talented scientist or engineer with an interest in materials and electrochemical processing to be part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers. It is also an excellent introduction to the nuclear industry and the expanding academic research base in the UK.
Research will be based in our state-of-the-art electrochemical technology laboratories at UCL, with some work, including live experiments, at the internationally leading AWE laboratories in Aldermaston.
 R. Abdulaziz, L. D. Brown, D. Inman, C. Sharrad, A. Jones, P. R. Shearing, D. J. L. Brett. (2017). Electrochemical reduction of UO2 to U in LiCl-KCl molten salt eutectic using the fluidized cathode process. Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 164 (8), H5280-H5285.
 R. Abdulaziz, L. D. Brown, D. Inman, P. Shearing, D. J. L. Brett. (2017). Electrochemical reduction of tungsten oxide in LiCl-KCl molten salt eutectic using the fluidised cathode process. Electrochimica Acta, 226, 18-28.
 R. Abdulaziz, L. D. Brown, D. Inman, S. Simons, P. R. Shearing, D. J. L. Brett. (2014). Novel fluidised cathode approach for the electrochemical reduction of tungsten oxide in molten LiCl-KCl eutectic. Electrochemistry Communications, 41(0), 44-46.
About the Electrochemical Innovation Lab: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eil
About the AWE: http://www.awe.co.uk
Duties and responsibilities:
o To carry out experimental research in the field of molten salts electrochemistry
o To develop and apply new experimental, theoretical and/or modelling research methods to characterise reactor performance and process efficiency
o To collaborate within a large research team
o To travel and visit collaborators as necessary
o To spend time at AWE premises
o To prepare and present research findings to colleagues for review and collaboration purposes
o To contribute to the drafting and submission of articles to appropriate peer reviewed journals and progress reports as required
o To contribute to the overall activities of the research team and department as required
o The successful candidate will carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the post as requested by the line manager or Head of Department/Division
o The successful candidate will actively follow UCL policies including Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies