Chemical and Electrochemical Studies in Molten Fluoride Salts

Chemical and Electrochemical Studies in Molten Fluoride Salts


Raluca O. Scarlat

Nuclear Engineering Department, UC Berkeley

Molten fluoride salts are ionic liquids that are employed in nuclear reactors as coolant or nuclear fuel solvents. 2LiF-BeF2 (FLiBe) is an ionic liquid that is of particular interest for application in nuclear reactors due to its neutronic properties. While the fluoride salts are ionic liquids, the beryllium constituent is known to form partly covalent associates with the fluorine, leading for formation of complex ions in the ionic melt. The implications of this complexation on the chemical and thermophysical properties of the salt are only partly understood. This talk will provide examples of unexpected observations in molten fluoride salts relevant to nuclear applications, including reactions of FLiBe with hydrogen.


Raluca Scarlat is an assistant professor at UC Berkeley, in the Department of Nuclear Engineering. Professor Scarlat has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University. Raluca Scarlat’s research focuses on chemistry, electrochemistry and physical chemistry of high-temperature inorganic fluids and their application to energy systems. She has experience in design and  safety analysis of fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactors (FHRs) and Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs), and high-temperature gas cooled reactors (HTGRs). Her research includes safety analysis and design of nuclear reactors and engineering ethics.

The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium wins 5-year NNSA Grant for the third time

The Nuclear Science and Security Consortium wins 5-year NNSA Grant for the third time

January 27, 2021

Bay Area Neutron Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on 08/22/2017 in Berkeley, Calif.

The Berkeley-based center, the NSSC, has won the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NSSA) 5-year, $25 million grant for the third time in a row. The NNSA first awarded the NSSC with a $25 million grant in 2011, then in 2016, and now for Sept. 2021. UC Berkeley's Nuclear Engineering Department Chair, Professor Peter Hosemann, highlights  this "is particularly notable given that most centers only receive it once or twice."

There is a recompetition for the grant every 5 years, as detailed by UCB Nuclear Engineering professor and NSSC program director, Jasmina Vujic: “We have to recompete — this is not renewal — every single time, meaning we have to write an entirely new proposal, have an entirely new team, and compete on a national level against anybody else."

The NSSC has supported over 550 undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral students, faculty and specialists throughout its history. Focusing most of its funding to student support. “The consortium provides a strong draw for students into nuclear security and nonproliferation research areas,” said NSSC executive director and UCB researcher Bethany Goldblum in an email. “These scholars will go on to be leaders in nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear arms control, nuclear incident response, nuclear energy, and other nuclear-related fields.” 

We congratulate Professor Vujic, Dr. Goldblum, and those that contributed to the successful proposal. To another successful and fruitful 5 years ahead!

Read more on the Daily Cal's feature

The Essential Role of Universities in Advanced Reactor Deployment

Dr. Kathryn D. Huff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Many University TRTRs were shut down in the 1980s & 1990s as student enrollments waned. In the 2000s, student enrollment in nuclear engineering and enthusiasm for carbon-free nuclear energy has rebounded mightily, but no new university TRTRs have been built in nearly 30 years. Simultaneous with this widening gap in hands-on training, unprecedented federal funding to demonstrate and commercialize advanced reactors has been distributed to companies promising a bright future for advanced nuclear energy. But, in this future, who will objectively test these reactors, train their operators, educate their reactor engineers, and improve the technology through innovative experiments?
In this talk, I'll suggest that universities remain poised to play many of these roles in the future of next-generation nuclear reactor deployment and university campuses are uniquely suited for early deployments. We at UIUC envision a next-generation university test, research, and training reactor that could underpin advanced reactor commercialization toward national leadership in a clean, sustainable energy future. Our vision for the deployment of a next-generation university TRTR aims to amplify the profound expertise at campuses in research, education, and power production to address the urgent need for advanced reactor prototype testing as well as next-generation research toward integration with carbon-free energy technologies. I will describe a vision of the future in which universities and their research can and must play a significant role in prototype testing next-generation reactors, support commercial licensing and deployment, conduct operations research, drive innovations in associated technologies, and train a next-generation workforce to operate and maintain these next-generation devices.
About the Speaker:

Dr. Kathryn D. Huff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she leads the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.  She is additionally a Blue Waters Assistant Professor with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in both the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at the University of California - Berkeley. She received her PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 and her undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Chicago.  Her current research focuses on modeling and simulation of advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles. She is an active member of the American Nuclear Society, vice-chair of the Nuclear Nonproliferation and Policy Division, a past chair of the Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division, and recipient of both the Young Member Excellence and Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women's Achievement awards. Through leadership within Software Carpentry, SciPy, the Hacker Within, and the Journal of Open Source Software she also advocates for best practices in open, reproducible scientific computing.

Kairos Power’s Hermes, one of the Risk Reduction Projects awarded by DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the projects to be funded by its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) award for Risk Reduction funding. Kairos Power LLC (Alameda, CA) was selected and will be awarded $629 million over seven years (DOE share is $303 million) and will receive $30 million in initial funding for FY20.

A recognition for the Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor and Kairos's progress in developing its commercial-scale KP-FHR (Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor): "a novel advanced nuclear reactor technology that leverages TRI-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel in pebble form combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant."


DOE's announcement