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Development of novel extractants for selective americium separation

Apply now Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD

This research tackles a crucial challenge in nuclear energy: the safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) by reducing its residual heat load and footprint in geological repositories. Current processes like PUREX efficiently separate uranium and plutonium, but the separation of americium still poses a significant hurdle.

The dedicated project on “Selective separation of americium using solvent extraction” uses a groundbreaking approach aiming at further minimizing heat-emitting elements. A critical aspect herein is our focus on CHON-compliant ligands which are exclusively composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Current extractants, while effective, contain sulfur and are complicating waste treatment. The synthesis of CHON-compliant ligands aims to enhance americium separation while avoiding additional waste streams.

By designing and screening these ligands, assessing separation efficiency, and ensuring scalability you will contribute to a cleaner, safer future in nuclear energy. A future defined by sustainable practices and responsible fuel management.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Chemistry

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group


SCK CEN Mentor

Van Hecke Karen
karen.van.hecke [at]
+32 (0)14 33 32 75

SCK CEN Co-mentor

Opsomer Tomas
Tomas.Opsomer [at]
+32 (0)14 33 83 53


Dehaen Wim
wim.dehaen [at]


Cardinaels Thomas
thomas.cardinaels [at]