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PhD Thesis in Molten Salt Reactor Physics (M/W)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR5821-CHRVEL-072
Workplace : GRENOBLE
Date of publication : Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Elsa Merle
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) present a very interesting potential in terms of safety and flexibility. Such reactor is based on a liquid salt circulating between the core and the heat exchangers and playing the role of both the fuel and the coolant to evacuate the heat produced. Since some times, there is renewed interest in these reactors to produce massively energy as well as for small modular reactors or to burn actinides that may not be used as fuel in present Pressurized Water Reactors. Since twenty years, the MSFR team of LSPC (Laboratoire de Physique Subatomique et de Cosmologie) drives studies of such reactors for all these applications and especially the reference MSFR version, breeder reactor in the Thorium fuel cycle and based on a fluoride fuel salt. Safety and operation issues of the reference MSFR are currently studied in the frame of the SAMOSAFER (Severe Accident Modeling and Safety Assessment for Fluid-fuel Energy Reactors) European project.
The PhD work proposed and funded by the SAMOSAFER project is related more precisely to the work packages WP1 « Safety Requirements and Risk Identification », WP6 « Reactor operation, Reactor control and Safety demonstration», WP4 « Fuel Salt Confinement », and WP3 « Source Term distribution and Mobility » of the project, with contributions in the following axes:
•In WP1: risk identification and classification of the transients and accidents of the MSFR, work in interaction with colleagues from CEA Cadarache, Framatome and POLITO.
•In WP6: study of the impact of design choices (salt composition, fuel cycle, size / power of the core) on the safety level of the reactor.
•In WP6: in the task on safety margins and reactor operational states, contribution to the definition of the operation domain of the MSFR by using system codes developed for the MSFR and in interaction with colleagues from Framatome and CEA + transients studies of the MSFR core with the coupled code TFM-OpenFOAM including comparisons with calculations performed in parallel at CEA Saclay.
•In WP4: in the task on the analysis of salt confinement in a large scale MSFR, to perform multi‐physics calculations under various accidental conditions to provide a map of thermal load to the vessel and heat exchanger walls that may lead to a break of the fuel circuit confinement function.
•In WP3: work on a benchmark of evolutive neutronic calculations to evaluate the production of fission products involved in the source term of the MSFR in case of accidental/incidental situations, in collaboration with colleagues from Subatech Nantes, PSI and POLIMI.

Work Context

The Laboratoire de Physique Subatomique et de Cosmologie de Grenoble (LPSC) ( is a joint research unit associating CNRS-IN2P3, the Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) and the Grenoble INP school, with an average staff of about 230 people.
The thesis will take place in the MSFR Team of LPSC in the frame of the SAMOSAFER European project. Ms. Elsa Merle will be the thesis supervisor. The studies to be done are interdisciplinary, going from reactor physics to safety analysis. It will be important to integrate all the constraints related to MSRs, which differ considerably from classical solid-fueled reactors. It will then be ask to the student to participate to various technical meetings of national French projects on MSR (NEEDS program…) and of the SAMOSAFER project.
The candidate must have a Master degree in reactor physics or in nuclear physics. He/she will have to:
•Have a good knowledge about reactor physics (neutronics, thermalhydraulics, safety…)
•Be able to work in a team and in various collaborations
•Be able to develop a simulation/calculation tool, especially with the Java language
•Master a large production of data
•Master the French and English languages, both written and spoken.

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