MICHAEL F SIMPSON portrait
  • Chair, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Associated Faculty for Nuclear Engineering
  • Chair of Materials Science & Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Adjunct Professor, Civil And Environmental Engin
  • Professor, Metallurgical Engineering

Research Statement

Overview of My Research

Molten salts play a major role in a number of metallurgical separations processes, including aluminum and titanium processing.  I am actively working to support their applications in advanced nuclear energy systems.  In particular, I am interested in the uranium-plutonium metal fuel based Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) as well as molten salt fueled and/or cooled nuclear reactors.   Molten salts are used by the IFR as an electrolyte in electrochemical cells called electrorefiners that separate uranium or uranium/plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.  The recovered actinides are in the metallic state and can readily be re-cast into new fuel rods for these reactors.  In molten salt fueled reactors, uranium, thorium, or plutonium is dissolved in either a fluoride or chloride molten salt. These reactors can operate safely at low pressure and can be designed to very efficiently fission actinides in order to achieve sustainable use of energy resources while minimizing the amount of nuclear waste generated.  Our group specializes in studying electrochemical and pyrochemical processes with these salts.  We are developing technology to monitor the composition of the salts in real time.  We are developing conceptual safeguards approaches to virtually eliminate the potential for diversion of plutonium from nuclear fuel processing facilities.  And we are developing compact, durable waste forms to enable safe permanent disposal of the waste from nuclear reactors.

Additionally, we are applying what we have learned from nuclear-based molten salt systems to support the use of molten salts as heat transfer/storage fluids in concentrating solar power (CSP) plants.  We have recently published research on the electrochemical effect of adding magnesium metal to MgCl2-NaCl-KCl salt mixtures (https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1ZbuR3In-93NRd). This will soon be followed by a publication on the effect of Mg addition on corrosion of other metals.

 

Research Keywords

  • Electrophysiology

Presentations

  • "Control of Corrosion of Metals in Molten Salt Reactors," Graduate Seminar at Oregon State University. , Presented, 2022.
  • "Active Metal Redox Control for Corrosion Mitigation in Neutron Irradiated Molten Salts," Graduate Seminar at Brigham Young University. , Presented, 2021.
  • "Research in Chemistry Monitoring and Control for MCFR Fuel Salt," virtual seminar for Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. , Presented, 2021.
  • "Challenges for taking Pyroprocessing Concept to Deployment," DOE Workshop on Innovative Separations Technology for Nuclear Fuel Cycles. , Presented, 2021.
  • M.F. Simpson, “What is pyroprocessing, and how can it be applied to CANDU used fuel?” Future Options for Managing Irradiated CANDU Fuel Workshop, Toronto, January 23, 2015. , Presented, 2015.
  • M.F. Simpson, “Process Monitoring and Safeguards of Nuclear Processes involving Molten Salts,” Savannah River National Laboratory Director’s Colloquium, January 8, 2015. , Presented, 2015.
  • M.F. Simpson, “Overview of the Pyrochemical Processing of Spent from from EBR-II,” Seoul National University, December 31, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson, “Electrochemical Separations Processes for Molten Salt Mixtures,” Seoul National University, December 30, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson, “Striving for Chemical Process Innovation to Enable Closure of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” University of Nevada at Reno, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering Seminar, October 14, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), M. Wasnik*, K. Carlson, L. Gardner*, and P. Bagri*, "Development of Dechlorinated Salt Wasteforms using H-Y Zeolite," Global 2017, Seoul, September 24-29, 2017. , Presented, 2017.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), C. Zhang*, D. Rappleye*, and Z. Wang*, “Optimized Voltammetry Methods for Measuring Concentration of Multiple Rare Earths in Molten LiCl-KCl,” Annual TMS Meeting, San Diego, March 1, 2017. , Presented, 2017.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker); “Examples of the Application of Redox Control for Pyroprocessing Spent Nuclear Fuel in Molten LiCl-KCl;” American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 16, 2016. , Presented, 2016.
  • D. Rappleye*, D. Horvath*, C. Zhang*, Z. Wang*, and M.F. Simpson (speaker); “Methods for Determining the Working Electrode Interfacial Area for Electroanalytical Measurements of Metal Ions in Molten LiCl-KCl;” PRiME 2016, Honolulu, October 3, 2016. , Presented, 2016.
  • D. Rappleye*, C. Zhang*, Z. Wang*, and M.F. Simpson (speaker); “Development of Advanced Voltammetry Methods for Measuring Concentration of Actinides and Lanthanides in Electrorefiner Salt;” International Pyroprocessing Research Conference, Jeju, Korea, September 23, 2016. , Presented, 2016.
  • D. Rappleye* and M.F. Simpson (speaker); “Electrochemical Concentration Measurements for Online Monitoring of Used Nuclear Fuel;” American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, November 11, 2015. , Presented, 2015.
  • M.F. Simpson, "Prospects for Safeguarding Pyroprocessing," 5th International Pyroprocessing Research Conference, Idaho Falls, October 21, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson, D. Rappleye, E.D. Blandford, and H. Garcia; "Signature Based Safeguards Alternative to Nuclear Material Accountancy;" INMM Annual Meeting, Atlanta, July 20-24, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson, "Prospects for Large-Scale Implementation of Pyroprocessing to Close the Nuclear Fuel Cycle;" 29th KAIF/KNS Annual Conference, Busan, South Korea, April 18, 2014. , Presented, 2014.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), Justin McAllister, Ethan Hamilton, and Matthew Newton, “Design and Operation of a System for the Preparation of a Molten Chloride Nuclear Fuel Salt,” Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Orlando, Nov 9-14, 2019. Other, Presented, 2019.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), Suhee Choi, Olivia Dale, Mario Gonzalez, and Nicole Orabona, “Effect of Dissolved Mg on the Electrochemistry of Molten MgCl2-NaCl-KCl,” Global 2019, Seattle, September 26, 2019. Other, Presented, 2019.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), Prashant Bagri, Suhee Choi, Olivia Dale, Huan Zhang, Manish Wasnik, Devin Rappleye, and Nicole Orabona, “Basic Molten Salt Research Needs to Support Development of Liquid Fueled Generation-IV Nuclear Reactors,” Fall Meeting of the American Chemical Society, San Diego, August 28, 2019. Other, Presented, 2019.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), Emma Faulkner, Matt Jackson, and Marisa Monreal, “Analysis and Effect of Residual Water on Chemistry of Molten CaCl2 used for Plutonium Processing,” Actinide Separations Conference, Kingsport, May 2019. Other, Presented, 2019.
  • M.F. Simpson (speaker), S. Choi, N. Orabona, and O. Dale; “Effect of Purification Procedures on Electrochemistry of Molten MgCl2-KCl-NaCl”, Annual TMS Meeting, San Antonio, March 12, 2019. Other, Presented, 2019.
  • "Purification of Actinides via Chlorination + Volatilization," 2021 Actinide Separations Conference. , Presented, 2021.
  • "Electrochemical Reactions of Oxide Ions with Tungsten in Molten CaCl2," TMS Annual Meeting (Virtual). , Presented, 2021.

Research Groups

  • Emma Faulkner, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2018 - present.
  • Nora Alnajjar, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2018 - 2019.
  • Gregory Strader, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2016 - 2017.
  • Manish Wasnik, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2016 - present.
  • Matthew Newton, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2016 - present.
  • Silvia Padilla, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2016 - 2018.
  • Parker Okabe, . Nuclear Engineering. 2015 - present.
  • Shannon Adams, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2015 - 2017.
  • Chao Zhang, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2015 - present.
  • David Horvath, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2015 - 2019.
  • Arielle DeJesus, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2015.
  • Alieksia Minko, . Nuclear Engineering. 2014 - 2016.
  • Adam Burak, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2019.
  • Lauryn Hansen, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2016.
  • Mario Gonzalez, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2018.
  • Prashant Bagri, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2017.
  • Milan Stika, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2014 - 2017.
  • Devin Rappleye, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2013 - 2016.
  • Avi Jurovitzki, . Metallurgical Engineering. 2013 - 2015.

Publications

  • C. Zhang (date unknown). Electrorefiner Salt Analytes Concentration Monitoring Through Voltammetric Methods. Proceedings of the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • M. Wasnik (date unknown). Waste Minimization of Electrorefiner Waste Salt via Dechlorination: A New Approach. Proceedings of the Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • M. Wasnik (date unknown). Electrorefiner Salt Dechlorination in Ultra-Stable HY Zeolite. Proceedings of Global 2017. Accepted, .
  • M.F. Simpson (date unknown). M.F. Simpson, D. Rappleye, E.D. Blandford, and H. Garcia; “Signature Based Safeguards Alternative to Nuclear Material Accountancy;” Proceedings of the 2014 INMM Annual Meeting, Atlanta; July 20-24, 2014. Accepted, .
  • D. Rappleye (date unknown). D. Rappleye, M. Stika, and M.F. Simpson; “Simulated Response of Electrochemical Sensors for Monitoring Molten-Salt Fueled Reactors;” Proceedings of the 2014 INMM Annual Meeting, Atlanta; July 20-24, 2014. Accepted, .
  • Claire Decker (date unknown). Scale-up of Zeolite-4A Occlusion Process for Radioactive Electrorefiner Salts. Vol. 125. Transactions of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • D. Ethan Hamilton (date unknown). Synthesis of UCl3 by Hydrochlorination of U Metal,. Vol. 124. Transactions of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • Chong Lei (date unknown). Measurement of polarization resistances of LSCF/YSZ/LSCF symmetrical cell using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) techniques. Vol. 104. Electrochemical Society Transactions. Accepted, .
  • M. Wasnik (date unknown). Ion Exchange of LiCl-KCl in H-Y Zeolite for Dechlorination of Electrorefiner Salt Waste Forms. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • C. Zhang (date unknown). Normal Pulse Voltammetry for Real Time Analysis of Electrorefiner Salt with High Concentrations of Analytes. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. Accepted, .
  • Abraham Jurovitzki (date unknown). A. Jurovitzki and M.F. Simpson, “Chlorination of actinide and rare oxides for application to continuous pyrochemical reprocessing;” Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Nuclear Society, San Antonio, June 2015. Accepted, .
  • L. Gardner (date unknown). Effect of Reduced Dehalogenation on the Performance of Y Zeolite-Based Sintered Waste Forms. Journal of Nuclear Materials. Vol. 545. Accepted, .
  • Devin Rappleye (date unknown). D. Rappleye, S.M. Jeong, and M.F. Simpson; “Application of Multivariate Analysis Techniques to Safeguards of the Electrochemical Treatment of Used Nuclear Fuel;” Annals of Nuclear Energy (2015), pp. 265-272. Accepted, .
  • S. Adams (date unknown). Simulated Response to process abnormalities during spent fuel electrorefining. Annals of Nuclear Energy. Vol. 110, 1002-1009. Accepted, .
  • J. Jarrell (date unknown). J. Jarrell, M. Stika, M. Chaiken, M. Simpson, T.E. Blue, and L.R. Cao; "Determination of the Thickness of an Electrodeposited Thorium Film with SiC Alpha Detectors;" Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 2016, doi:10.1007/s10967-016-5093-x. Accepted, .
  • David Horvath (date unknown). Electrochemical Response of Metal Alloys to Oxygen Gas Bubbling in Molten LiCl-Li2O Melt. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. Accepted, .
  • Huan Zhang (date unknown). High temperature UCl3 synthesis in molten salt mixtures via reaction of U metal with Iron Chlorides. Journal of Nuclear and Radioanalytical Chemistry. Vol. 331. Accepted, .
  • H.S. Ji (date unknown). H.S. Ji, H.Y. Ryu, E.Y. Choi, S.W. Cho, M.F. Simpson, and S.M. Jeong; “Preparation of NdNi5 using an electrochemical reduction of a NiO-Nd2O3 mixture in molten LiCl;” J. Ind. Eng. Chem. (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jiec.2014.09.039. Accepted, .
  • H.Y. Ryu (date unknown). H.Y. Ryu*, H.S. Ji*, S.M. Jeong, and M.F. Simpson; “Formation of Mg-Li Alloy by Electro-Intercalation of Li+ Ions on a Solid Mg Cathode in an Eutectic LiCl-KCl Salt;” Journal of Chemical Engineering of Japan; vol. 47, n. 9, pp. 750-755, 2014. Accepted, .
  • Suhee Choi (date unknown). Electrochemical Measurements for Assessing Corrosion of Metal Alloys in Molten LiF-NaF-KF and MgCl2-NaCl-KCl. JOM. Accepted, .
  • Chao Zhang (date unknown). Electroanalytical Measurements of Oxide Ions in Molten CaCl2 on W electrode. Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Vol. 168. Accepted, .
  • Levi Gardner (date unknown). Viscosities and Working Region Predictions for Bismuth Aluminoborosilicate Glasses. Journal of Applied Glass Science. Vol. 10. Accepted, .
  • Chao Zhang (date unknown). Electrochemical measurement of high concentrations of UCl3 and GdCl3 in molten LiCl-KCl eutectic. Electrochemical Acta. Vol. 280. Accepted, .
  • Joshua Jarrell (date unknown). 4H-SiC Alpha Spectrometry for Nuclear Forensics with Electrodeposited Sources. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. Vol. 318. Accepted, .
  • Mario Gonzalez (date unknown). Identification, measurement, and mitigation of key impurities in LiCl-Li2O used for direct electrolytic reduction of UO2. Journal Nuclear Materials. Vol. 510. Accepted, .
  • A. Weisberg (date unknown). A. Weisberg, R.E. Lakis, M. Simpson, L. Horowitz, and J. Craparo; “Measuring Lanthanide Concentrations in Molten Salt Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS);” Applied Spectroscopy, vol. 68, n.9, pp. 937-948, 2014. Accepted, .
  • Prashant Bagri (date unknown). P. Bagri and M.F. Simpson, “Activity Coefficient of Gadolinium(III) Chloride in Molten LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt and its Dependence on Cesium Chloride Concentration using EMF Measurements,” Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 164 (8) H5299-H5307 (2017); doi: 10.1149/2.0441708jes. Accepted, .
  • D.S. Rappleye (date unknown). D.S. Rappleye, M.F. Simpson, R. Cumberland, D. McNelis, and M.S. Yim; “Simulated Real-Time Process Monitoring of a Molten Salt Electrorefiner;” Nuclear Engineering and Design, Volume 273, Pages 75-84, 2014. Accepted, .
  • Chong Lei (date unknown). Investigation of electrode kinetics of porous La-Sr-Co-Fe- oxide (LSCF) electrodes on yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Vol. 168. Accepted, .
  • C. Zhang (date unknown). Density of Molten Salt Mixtures of Eutectic LiCl-KCl containing UCl3, CeCl3, or LaCl3. Journal of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology. Vol. 15. Accepted, .
  • Prashant Bagri (date unknown). P. Bagri, C. Zhang, and M.F. Simpson, “Galvanic reduction of uranium(III) chloride from LiCl-KCl eutectic salt using gadolinium metal,” Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 493 (2017) 120-123. Accepted, .
  • Huan Zhang (date unknown). Electroanalytical measurements of UCl3 and CeCl3 in molten NaCl-CaCl2. Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Vol. 168. Accepted, .
  • Wasnik M. (date unknown). Dechlorination of molten chloride waste salt from electrorefining via ion-exchange using pelletized ultra-stable H-Y zeolite in a fluidized particle reactor. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. Vol. 320, 309-322. Accepted, .
  • David Horvath (date unknown). D. Horvath, D. Rappleye, and M.F. Simpson, “Electrochemical Study of MnCl2 in Molten Eutectic LiCl-KCl;” Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol.493 (2017) 189-199. Accepted, .
  • Milan Stika (date unknown). M. Stika, S. Padilla, J. Jarrell, T. Blue, L.R. Cao, and M. Simpson, “Thin-Layer Electrodeposition of Thorium Metal from Molten LiCl-KCl,” Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 164 (8) H5078-H5085 (2017). Accepted, .
  • Chao Zhang (date unknown). C. Zhang, D. Rappleye, and M.F. Simpson, “Preliminary Study of Optimization of Normal Pulse Voltammetry for Actinide Measurement in Molten Salt Electrorefiners using LiCl-KCl-UCl3-MgCl2 as a Surrogate Salt,” Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 164 (8) H5218-H5223 (2017). Accepted, .
  • Chong Lei (date unknown). Fabrication of high-density and translucent Al-containing garnet, Li7−xLa3Zr2−xTaxO12 (LLZTO) solid-state electrolyte by pressure filtration and sintering,. Solid State Ionics. Vol. 364. Accepted, .
  • Levi Gardner (date unknown). Deliquescence of eutectic LiCl-KCl diluted with NaCl for interim waste salt storage. Nuclear Technology. Vol. 208. Accepted, .
  • Neil Taylor (date unknown). Isotopic Concentration of Uranium from Alpha Spectrum of Electrodeposited Source on 4H-SiC Detector at 500oC. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. Vol. 320, 441-449. Accepted, .
  • P. Lafreniere (date unknown). P. Lafreniere, D. Rappleye, M.F. Simpson, and E. Blandford; “Demonstration of Signature-Based Safeguards for Pyroprocessing as Applied to Electrorefining and the Ingot Casting Process;” Nuclear Technology, vol. 189, No. 2, February 2015, pp. 173-185. Accepted, .
  • Joel McDuffee (date unknown). Design and Control of a Fueled Molten Salt Cartridge Experiment for the Versatile Test Reactor. Nuclear Science and Engineering. Accepted, .
  • Devin Rappleye (date unknown). D. Rappleye and M.F. Simpson; “Application of the Rotating Cylinder Electrode in Molten LiCl-KCl Eutectic Containing Uranium(III)- and Magnesium(II)- Chloride;” Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 487, 362-372 (2017). Accepted, .
  • Devin Rappleye (date unknown). D. Rappleye, M.L. Newton, C. Zhang, and M.F. Simpson; “Electroanaytical Measurements of Binary-Analyte Mixtures in Molten LiCl-KCl Eutectic: Uranium(III)- and Magnesium(II)-Chloride;” Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 486, 369-380, 2017. Accepted, .
  • Chong Lei (date unknown). Investigation of ion and electron conduction in the mixed ionic-electronic conductor- La-Sr-Co-Fe-oxide (LSCF) using alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) techniques. Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Vol. 169. Accepted, .
  • Huan Zhang (date unknown). Testing of an Element Tracer Dilution Method for Measurement of Total Mass of Molten Salt in a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Process or Molten Salt Reactor,. Nuclear Technology. Vol. 208. Accepted, .
  • Wasnik M. (date unknown). Kinetics of Dechlorination of Molten Chloride Salt Using Protonated Ultrastable y Zeolite. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. Accepted, .
  • Humberto Garcia (date unknown). H.E. Garcia, M.F. Simpson, W.-C. Lin, R.B. Carlson, and T.S. Yoo; “Application of Process Monitoring to Anomaly Detection in Nuclear Material Processing Systems via System-centric Event Interpretation of Data from Multiple Sensors of Varying Reliability,” Annals of Nuclear Energy, 103 (2017) 60-73. Accepted, .
  • D. Rappleye (date unknown). D. Rappleye and M.F. Simpson; “Electroanalytical Measurements of Binary-Analyte Mixtures in Molten LiCl-KCl Eutectic: Gadolinium(III) and Lanthanum(III) Chloride;” J. of Electrochemical Society, v. 163, n. 9, B507-516, 2016. doi:10.1149/2.1011609jes. Accepted, .
  • Wang, Zhonghang (date unknown). Estimation of key physical properties for LaCl3 in molten eutectic LiCl–KCl by fitting cyclic voltammetry data to a BET-based electrode reaction kinetics model. Elsevier BV. Vol. 475, 149-155. Accepted, .