Postdoc in Catalytic Supercritical Water Gasification process (Grenoble, 2 years contract)

You are a motivated young researcher, and you are looking for new challenges in the Circular Carbon Economy field. We offer a postdoc contract at CEA-Liten for studying the interactions between innovative catalysts and inorganic compounds from biomasses and wastes in supercritical water conditions.

New Sustainable Carbon Catalysts for PEMFC

The aim of the project is to develop and test for ORR, a mesoporous and graphitised graphene aerogel based material, presenting a hierarchical structuring allowing a better material transfer and graphitic domains increasing the durability and conductivity of the final material, and functionalised by Pt-NPs.
These graphene-based structures developed at IRIG/SyMMES possess surface chemistries and micro/meso/macro porosities that depend on the synthesis, functionalisation and drying methods used. The aim will be to increase their degree of graphitisation, and then to deposit Pt-NPs by chemical means. The electrocatalytic properties of these materials will then be tested.
Advanced meso-structural characterisation of these materials by scattering (X-ray or neutrons) methods will enable to investigate the structural properties of these new electro-catalysts. These properties will thenbe correlated to their electrocatalytic properties, and performances in fuel cell systems. This knowledge will be gained through ex-situ and operando analyses.

Design of new microfluidic tools for liquid-liquid extraction chemical processes

This 12-month post-doc proposal is part of the PIA MiRAGe: Future Investment Plan “Microfluidic Tools for Accelerated R&D on Recycling Processes”.
The MIRAGE project aims to provide a set of micro and millifluidic tools, platforms and methods to accelerate, intensify and make more flexible R&D on new recycling processes for strategic metals, nuclear or non-nuclear, while minimizing quantities of materials used.
To do this, new microfluidic tools have been designed at CEA ISEC to perform counter-current liquid-liquid extraction operations. These tools make it possible to redefine the orders of magnitude in the importance of the physico-chemical phenomena involved.
The interest of this invention is twofold and will be the core work of this post-doc:
- Carry out extraction operations over very low times and liquid volumes.
- Transpose this invention to larger volumes.
Thus, initially this post-doc work will seek to study in more detail the capabilities of this new microfluidic device, then to transpose this new technique to larger contactors.
The work will be carried out in the ISEC facilities at the CEA, on the Marcoule site in partnership with the CNRS, Universities and the INP of Toulouse.

Direct electrification of innovative reactors for reverse water gas shift (RWGS)

Technologies such as direct electrification and use of clean hydrogen could play a role in defossilizing energy sector and chemical industries. Anyway, for some specific areas, like maritime or aviation transport or carbon based chemical intermediates production, it will be necessary to replace fossil molecules by renewable ones. Reverse water gas shift (RWGS), consisting in a catalytic hydrogenation of highly stable CO2 molecule into a more common CO rich syngas , is a key for a retrofit of various fossil based infrastructure. Indeed, such syngas is used in chemical industry for about a century to synthesize chemicals and fuels.
Anyway, RWGS being an endothermal equilibrated reaction favoured at high temperature, the thermal management of the reaction is still an issue, particularly the heat input to the reactor, which in this context should be efficient and from a decarbonized source.

Experimental and technological developments of a process for the mineralization of organic liquid waste by plasma

The ELIPSE process developed at the CEA allows the destruction of organic liquids by injection into a high-power plasma.
If the feasibility of destroying different organic components at flow rates of a few liters per hour has now been demonstrated, tests must now be further developed for reference organic liquids appropriately chosen according to existing deposits.
These studies, based on the characterization data of the chosen LORs, will aim to provide detailed process results obtained with the most representative operating conditions, to allow a complete and quantitative evaluation of the process. This will make it possible to establish operating, robustness and endurance data for the process.
This work will include the study of the behavior of radioelements in the process, which will be essential for the nuclearization study: this will involve studying the physico-chemical behavior of actinides during their processing via the use of inactive simulants.

Uranium and plutonium oxide synthesis by Advanced Denitration in presence of Organic Additives

The preparation of (U,Pu)O2 MOx fuel (Mixed oxide fuel), is based on the formation of actinide oxide species from purified uranium and plutonium aqueous solutions and constitutes one of the key steps for spent nuclear fuel recycling. More specifically, the formation of actinide oxide solid solutions is a pivotal point for the multi-recycling process with FNR (Fast Neutron reactors). In this framework, the ADOA process (Advanced Denitration in presence of Organic Additives) represents a potential pathway to prepare actinide oxides without the usual valence adjustment step and enables to prepare mixed oxides thanks to a very good cationic homogeneity. This process is based on the formation of a polymeric gel, which allows homogeneous immobilization of the cations, which is then dehydrated and calcinated, ultimately leading to the synthesis of an actinide mixed-oxide. However, an optimization of the physico-chemical parameters is still needed for this process to meet the industrial MOx fuel fabrication requirements.
The aim of this postdoctoral research project will be to determine the optimal experimental conditions for the polymerisation, dehydration and calcination steps and evaluate the process robustness. The impact of these conditions on the actinide oxide morphology and its impurity content (especially residual carbon content), ease of process implementation and its adequacy with the requirements for the MOx fuel fabrication process will also be investigated.
The candidate must have a PhD in radiochemistry or solid state chemistry. Since the main part of this study will be based on glovebox experiments with the study of radioactive ceramic materials, skills on glovebox handling and materials characterization will be an asset to get this position. The results obtained during this study will be featured in patents and/or scientific publications, opening job possibilities in academic or industrial research and development sectors.

Modelling of uranium precipitation kinetics as a function of pH. Application to fluidized bed reactor

The Orano plant in Niger (Somaïr) precipitates its uranium concentrate in a fluidized bed reactor by adding sodium hydroxide. The concentrate obtained contains around 6% sodium which leads to converter penalties. Orano carried out tests at the end of 2019 on a fluidized bed in the laboratory to change the operating point of precipitation and preferentially form UO3 via a change in pH. To refine the management of the industrial unit, it is necessary to model the precipitation reactions of uranium. The candidate will have to propose and calibrate a competitive precipitation model for Na2U2O7 and UO3 based on the equilibrium constants and reaction kinetics, as a function of the pH within the reactor. In particular, the model should make it possible to understand the impact of pH on the distribution of the two main species identified in the concentrate: Na2U2O7 and UO3. This chemical model should serve as input to an existing physical model of the fluidized bed reactor. An extension of the model to other precipitation reagents, in particular magnesia, could also be studied.

Synthesis and structural analysis of reference uranium minerals for the identification of uranium-bearing phases in mining environment by TRLFS.

In the frame of the collaborative project between the ICSM , CEA and Orano, a study is conducted in order to detect and identify minerals containing uranium (VI) by Time-Resolved Laser Fluorescence Spectroscopy (TRLFS). This technique showed its efficiency in order to identify the presence of uranyl in natural assemblies through the probing of the local environment of uranium. However, it requires the establishment of a database from synthetic and natural samples fully characterized. Therefore, in order to achieve this goal, we intend to synthesis, and thoroughly characterize a variety of compounds containing uranyl groups within the crystal structure. We can cite the families of oxi-hydroxide, sulfate, and silicates based compounds. Then, TRLFS spectra will be collected in order to complete the database and to evidence the impact of the local structure of uranyl cation on the intensity and the position of the emission bands. The obtained data will be also compared to a collection of natural samples.

Leaching foams to extract metals from electronic waste

The subject is part of the ANR "Foamex" project covering TRL from 1 to 5 and focussing on the development of recycling of some metals from a shred of electronic cards, this recycling being carried out in a fluid foam (minimization of the volume of solvents) that can be considered at the first level as a dynamic chromatography column. The principle is to use the foam as a reservoir containing an acid solution and specific oxidizing agents to dissolve and extract metals in the form of ionic species, a phenomenon enhanced by friction between bubbles and simultaneously to concentrate them via the fluid and mobile liquid/air interfaces by flow.

Structural characterization, reactivity and physico-chemical properties of Pu(IV) colloidal suspensions

Pu(IV) is known to be highly prone to hydrolysis leading to the formation of extremely stable Pu(IV) colloidal suspensions (known as intrinsic colloids). The lack of knowledge concerning the speciation and reactivity of these Pu colloids hinders the development of reliable models allowing to predict their behavior in industrial and environmental systems. The behavior of these colloidal species towards dissolution, complexation, or aggregation has been very poorly described in the literature. It thus appears essential to study and characterize Pu(IV) colloids and in particular their surface charge properties which ensure their stability and their interactions with their environment. This pioneering project in the nuclear field aims to study and characterize colloidal Pu(IV) suspensions whose size, concentration and dispersion medium can be controlled by our approaches. It comprises: (i) the preparation of intrinsic Pu(IV) colloidal suspensions and the study of their chemical and sonochemical reactivity; (ii) the electrophoretic characterization of various colloidal suspensions and the study of their behavior under the influence of an electric field; (iii) the characterization of their multi-scale structural properties by small and large angle scattering (SAXS / WAXS) coupled with EXAFS / XANES measurements (MARS line, SOLEIL synchrotron).