Design of new extractant molecules for uranium and plutonium separation

The subject of this postoctoral position is related to the optimization of the process used to separate uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuels. In the so called PUREX process currently in operation at La Hague reprocessing plant in France, the TBP (tri-n-butylphosphate) is used as extractant in the solvent extraction system. This molecule shows high affinity for uranium and plutonium at oxidation states VI and IV and allows to reach high decontamination factors versus fission products. Nevertheless, the separation of U from Pu requires the use of reducing and anti-nitrous reagents to allow the back-extraction of Pu(III). In order to improve the process, researches are under way to design new extractant molecules which would allow to separate U and Pu without redox chemistry and with high selectivity versus fission products (Ru, Tc, Cs, lanthanides, etc) and other actinides (especially Np). The objective of the postdoctoral associate will be to select the molecules, to determine synthesis routes and to perform their synthesis using equipment available in the LCPE laboratory (micro-wave, flash chromatography, NMR, HPLC-MS, GC-HRMS) at the CEA Marcoule.

Modelling of actinide electrorefining

Modelling of an actinide electrorefining process

In the frame of the SACSESS European project CEA, ITU and CNRS are studying jointly a pyrochemical process for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels by electrolysis in molten chloride salts.

The main objective of the proposed post-doctoral work concerns the modelling of electrorefining runs onto aluminium cathodes using U-Pu-Zr-Am-Gd-Nd-Ce-Y metallic alloy. The modelling aims to evaluate the efficiency of this electrolytic process in terms of separation factors and to optimize the process flow sheets for a safe nuclear materials management.

Multiscale approach of f elements aqueous solutions modeling

A post-doctoral position is available for one year at CEA-Marcoule
The study will be the modeling of concentrated aqueous phases of heavy metal salts using both microscopic and mesoscopic modeling.

Separation processes for heavy metals recycling usually use liquid-liquid extraction with the transfer of ionic species from a concentrated aqueous phase to an organized organic phase.
This post-doctoral research subject relates to the chemical properties of these processes, and especially to the characterization of the aqueous phase using as accurate as possible models. The goal is to understand the various effects (solvation, electrostatic and van der waals forces, entropy…) influencing the structural and energetic properties of these solutions. A multi-scale approach will be used to study some systems of interest for both fundamental and industrial point of view, the aim being the characterization of these solutions from their molecular structure to their thermodynamic properties. The tools and the approach used here have to be be valid for separative chemistry overall.