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

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

Date Limite Candidature : lundi 2 août 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR5821-CHRVEL-095
Workplace : GRENOBLE
Date of publication : Monday, July 12, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : Elsa Merle
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 November 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Study of the threshold effects in terms of safety and operation, design and matter management of a SMR molten salt reactor in the U/Pu fuel cycle
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 to produce heat and the coolant to evacuate the heat produced. Due to its inherent features, and its flexible applications (power generation (from small modular reactors up to high power, burning actinides that may not be used as fuel in present Pressurized Water Reactors, etc.), since some times, there is renewed interest in these reactors in France, Europe, and over the world. In the past 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.
Given the present context and objectives of nuclear energy, the promising characteristics of intrinsic safety of molten salt reactors enable new possible collaborations, and new studies are underway on new versions and applications of the MSFR concept, including small modular reactor (SMR) with a reduced power and/or volume, and based on the U/Pu fuel cycle. Such a reactor may be used to produce power or to reduce the nuclear waste stockpiles with a strategic interest for France to close the nuclear fuel cycle. Framatome, in collaboration with the MSFR team of LPSC, wishes to build a research project on the feasibility and optimization of such a small MSFR, called S-MSFR.
The PhD work proposed consists in identifying and studying the threshold effects arising when reducing the size and/or the power of the reactor, related to reactor physics (reactivity control, power and temperature distributions, load following capacity, design…), to economics (components simplification, scale effects…) or to the safety level of the system (safety analysis, decay heat removal…). The studies will rely on simulation tools and analysis methodology developed during two previous PhD theses (A. Laureau in 2015, and D. Gérardin in 2018 in collaboration with Framatome on the safety analyses in the frame of the SAMOFAR European project) of the MSFR team at LPSC Grenoble, during which a safety approach, a power plant simulator and tools to evaluate accidents (notably the TFM neutronic code coupled to the thermalhydraulic codes OpenFOAM and now StarCCM+) have been developed. Furthermore, Framatome and CNRS collaborate also in the frame of the SAMOSAFER European project, in which Framatome is in charge with CEA of the workpackage on the safety analysis of the reference MSFR. Framatome will thus bring to the thesis the expertise in nuclear safety of Generation 4 nuclear reactors with solid and liquid fuels, together with risk analysis methods and their application procedure, in reactor design including neutronics and thermalhydraulics.

Work Context

The Grenoble Subatomic Physics and Cosmology Laboratory (LPSC) (http://lpsc.in2p3.fr) is a mixed research unit associating the CNRS-IN2P3, the University of Grenoble Alpes (UGA) and the Grenoble INP engineering school , for an average workforce of around 230 people.
The PhD student will be assigned́ to the MSFR Team composed of 2 LPSC staff (1 professor and 1 emeritus research director) and will be placed under the direct hierarchical authority of the team leader (E. Merle).
His/her thesis supervisor will be Elsa Merle (CNRS/Grenoble INP) and he/she will be co-supervised by Thomas Boisseau (Framatome), Axel Laureau (CNRS) and Florian Vaiana (Framatome).
The thesis under CNRS contract will take place at Framatome Lyon during the first year and a half and then at LPSC Grenoble for the second part of the work. The studies to be done are interdisciplinary, going from reactor physics to safety analysis.

Additional Information

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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