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Announcements of Opportunity

SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor. Click here for more tips on finding a mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

New for 2021: Students applying for JPL projects should complete a SURF@JPL application instead of a "regular" SURF application.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Methods for Recycle of Uranium in Molten Salt Reactor Fuel
Disciplines:  Chemical Engineering, Materials Science
Mentor:  Michael Simpson, Professor, (CCE), michael.simpson@utah.edu, Phone: 801-581-4013
Mentor URL:  https://faculty.utah.edu/u0907827-MICHAEL_F_SIMPSON/research/index.hml  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE: This project is being offered by a Caltech alum and will be conducted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Only Caltech students are eligible for this project.

This project is in support of development of the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) as an advanced nuclear energy producing system. Optimal utilization of the fissile actinide resource (U-235, U-233, and/or Pu-239) requires separation of these isotopes from salt waste and recycle back to the molten salt fuel. To support safeguards and security, all processing must be done within the envelope of the MSR facility. Methods for extracting U/TRU metal and HCl from molten chloride salt MSRs have been developed. The next step is to figure out how to re-combine these components to return the actinides to the salt as chloride salts. This project aims to study the feasibility of reacting U metal with HCl gas in molten NaCl-CaCl2 to achieve the recycle goal.
Description:  In this project, the student will set up and perform experiments with molten salts at high temperatures (500-600 C). The system will feature an HCl gas delivery system interfaced with a sealed quartz reactor that will be loaded with NaCl-CaCl2 and metallic uranium. The student will run experiments for various lengths of time and HCl flow conditions. Salt samples will be taken and analyzed via ICP-MS. The student will also apply electrochemical methods to determine if U forms UCl3 or UCl4 in the salt. Graduate students and post docs will train the student on how to perform the experimental methods. The student will write short weekly project updates and meet with the research advisor to discuss progress and plans for the next week.
References:  H. Zhang, et al. “Square Wave Voltammetry for Real Time Analysis of Minor Metal Ion Concentrations in Molten Salt Reactor Fuel;” Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 527, 2019.

C. Zhang, et. al., Electrochemical Measurement of High Concentration of UCl3 and GdCl3 in Molten LiCl-KCl Eutectic,” Electrochimica Acta, 2018.

P. Okabe, et. al. “Development of Metallic Nuclear Material Purification Process via Simultaneous Chlorination and Volatilization,” Journal of Nuclear Materials, 543 (2021) 152626.
Student Requirements:  General chemistry w/lab, thermodynamics, calculus and differential equations
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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