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Research Fellow in Process Demonstration of Li-6 Enrichment to support Tritium Breeding

University of Leeds - Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences - School of Chemical & Process Engineering

Location: Leeds
Salary: £37,099 to £44,263 per annum - Due to funding restrictions, an appointment will not be made higher than £39,347 per annum (Grade 7)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 15th November 2023
Closes: 12th January 2024
Job Ref: EPSPE1097

Are you an experienced and ambitious researcher looking to tackle one of the UK’s biggest challenges? Do you have an interest in developing a commercial system for fusion reactors? Do you want to further your career in one of the UK’s leading research-intensive Universities?

One of the key challenges for commercial fusion is a viable fuel cycle that provides a steady supply of Li-6. Li-6 can be separated from natural Li (a mixture of the Li-6 and Li-7 isotopes) using a variety of processes; one of which is solvent extraction. However, these candidate processes have only been proven at small laboratory scale and data is needed at larger scales for engineering scale up.

The aim of this project is to prove that lithium can be recovered from a brine system, in the presence of a secondary ion (Mg) at scale above laboratory. This will be achieved by running extraction experiments on the 3-stage contactor rig at the University of Leeds.

The project will last for 18 months and be divided into 4 steps:

Step 1: Literature check and due diligence

Step 1 will provide a brief literature check to identify candidate solvent systems.

Step 2: Solvent selection and equilibrium testing

Laboratory scale batch experiments will be carried out on all candidate solvents to determine equilibrium conditions for each system. The performance will then be matched with (reagent) costs to determine the best one to test at pilot scale.

Step 3: Commissioning of 3-stage contactor rig

The 3-stage contactor rig at the University of Leeds has been shut down since the end of a project in 2021. Whilst major components have been monitored and maintained, the rig will need a short programme of testing and commissioning before use in experiments.

Step 4: Separation Trial

A trial will be conducted to gather extraction data, test analysis techniques and determine the length of experimental time, plus usage of reagent feedstock. This trial will be used to prove that the candidate process can be scaled up. The output will be a final report.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact: 

Professor Bruce Hanson, Professor of Nuclear Process Engineering

Email: B.C.Hanson@leeds.ac.uk

Location: Leeds - Main Campus

Working time: 37.5 hours per week

Contract type: Fixed term (Up to 18 months - The post is required to complete a specific task or time limited work, including the need for specific expertise or additional resource for a project.)

Interview date: To be confirmed

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