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Research Fellow in Nuclear Fuel Dissolution (2 roles)

Are you an experienced and ambitious researcher looking to tackle one of the UK’s biggest challenges? Do you have an interest in nuclear fuel and waste management? Do you want to further your career in one of the UK’s leading research intensive Universities?


Two opportunities have arisen to work at the School of Chemical and Process Engineering (CAPE); initially on Phase 2 of the UK Government’s Nuclear Innovation Programme on recycling (run through BEIS) and then on EPSRC’s ATLANTIC Programme. The common theme between the two programmes is investigation into several aspects related to nuclear fuel dissolution, as part of a future recycle process.


To deliver this programme we are building on a close knit community of expertise that was created in Phase 1 of the NIP on recycle, EPSRC’s PACIFIC programmes, as well a number of EU Framework programmes; which dealt with recycling of nuclear fuel and bring together a team of over 20 experts from 12 leading universities in the field of nuclear fission.


Our team has already established close collaborative links with EU FP7 programmes such as SACSESS and ASGARD; strengthening the breadth and depth of expertise and allowing a continuing presence on the H2020 programme GENIORS.

The work involves investigating:

  • Chemical conditioning of dissolution liquors prior to feeding forward into a separation process

  • Physical conditioning of dissolution liquors prior to feeding forward into a separation process

  • Investigating the scale up effect on fuel dissolution, focusing on single fuel pellets

  • Developing electrochemical sensors give real time data on speciation


For the first two aspects (linked to NIP Phase 2), CAPE’s role is to work closely with NNL and Lancaster University on the conditioning of liquors that result from dissolution of nuclear fuel. Conditioning is required ensure the removal of certain species (e.g. iodine) before the liquor is fed to a solvent extraction stage. Removal of solids is also a factor. The current process is to do this batchwise, but this project will look at developing a continuous process, probably using a NOx sparge and tested on the 100ml’s scale. The aim is to identify an alternative to centrifugation for removing insoluble fission products and PuO2, as well as fuel assembly fines. The end point will be the proof of concept of the chosen technology in its ability to remove solids, with a maximum size of 1 to 5microns. Solids of similar type to those being used to test tolerance in centrifugal contactors will be used, with additional experiments using uranium and or cerium oxide as a surrogate for Pu.


For the latter two aspects (linked to ATLANTIC), the work will investigate the scale up effect of fuel dissolution, focusing on the kinetic effects of reaction conditions on single pellets. Initially, work will be carried out on a simulant pellet (SIMFUEL) where the stoichiometry of the dissolution will be tested by measuring reaction rates with varying nitric/nitrous acid concentrations. Dissolution of oxide fuel is known to be sensitive to nitrous acid concentration. Will then continue with uranium pellets, working in our newly commissioned uranics laboratory. We will also link into work at the University of Edinburgh, where an electrochemical sensor will be developed to give real time data on speciation. The end point of the task will be a kinetic equation for dissolution that will link back to the detailed tests in Lancaster.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact: 

Professor Bruce Hanson, Professor of Nuclear Process Engineering 

Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 0475 or email: b.c.hanson@leeds.ac.uk


Further information

The Schools in the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences are proud to have been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze or Silver Award from the Equality Challenge Unit, the national body that promotes equality in the higher education sector. Our equality and inclusion webpage provides more information.

Location:  Leeds - Main Campus
Faculty/Service:  Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School/Institute:  School of Chemical & Process Engineering
Category:  Research
Grade:  Grade 7
Salary:  £33,797 to £40,322 p.a.
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (2 years)
Release Date:  Thursday 10 October 2019
Closing Date:  Sunday 10 November 2019
Reference:  EPSPE1002
Downloads:  Candidate Brief  
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Athena Swan Bronze Award
Equality and Inclusion - Everyone Included, Everyone Involved
HR Excellence in Research