Chemist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The application of online monitoring to harsh environments, such as nuclear waste streams or molten
salt reactors, presents the potential to enhance fundamental processes while significantly reducing
operation cost, risk, and time. Optical spectroscopy as an online monitoring tool serves as a rapid, non-
destructive method to accurately analyze, predict, and control chemical processes in a variety of
matrices. When applied to molten salt reactors, online monitoring can provide key fundamental
information that includes not only total concentration of target analytes, but also factors such as
oxidation state and speciation, which gives valuable and continuous insight into process conditions. This
capability serves as a powerful tool throughout the nuclear fuel cycle, which aids in meeting the needs
of next generation renewable energy.
Shirmir D. Branch is a Staff Chemist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Her current
work as PNNL is in research and development in Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry. Her research
interests include electrophoretic separations; the development of robust electrode sensor materials;
electroanalytical and spectroelectrochemical characterization in various harsh environments, including
molten salts. She completed her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 2018.
She traveled to PNNL in 2015 to complete research for her degree in the development of harsh
environment spectroelectrochemical sensors and became a staff scientist in 2018. Shirmir is also
volunteers with the American Chemical Society, as an executive committee member with the Richland
Local Section and with American Nuclear Society, as an executive committee member in the Nuclear
Fuel Cycle & Waste Management Division.
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