Microelectrode for Use in Extreme Environments
A microelectrode sensor system that operates in high temperature (400‐500°C) corrosive environments and enables online monitoring in a closed loop cycle.
- Nuclear fuel reprocessing
- Online analysis of molten salt reactors
- Oil exploration
- Molten salt batteries
- Metal extraction
- Electric power cells
The patent publication document (Reference WO2014053855), detailing invention, methods and results, will be provided following acceptance of the University’s Open Technology standard terms and conditions.
The technology’s primary application is in quantitative sensors for analysis in nuclear fuel reprocessing, but the technology could potentially be used in similarly harsh conditions, such as oil and gas exploration.
Nuclear is a high value, low carbon source of energy. There is global commitment to building new nuclear plants and new cleaner reprocessing techniques are, therefore, urgently needed. The microelectrode sensor system can detect nuclear relevant redox agents, e.g. Sm (III/II), Ce (III/0) and U (IV/0) dissolved in molten salts. This capability is of significant global importance and will substantially enhance the ability to reprocess nuclear waste and the development of generation (IV) nuclear reactors.
The devices have been manufactured using planar technology based upon the lithographic and patterning techniques widely used in the semiconductor industry. The deposition of a suitable insulated and encapsulated layer provides isolation between the electrode arrays and the underlying silicon carrier wafer to protect the microelectrode from harsh environments.
The microelectrodes were exposed to a lithium chloride/potassium chloride eutectic at 400‐500°C and responses for a range of redox species were observed that were quantitative and typical of microelectrodes.
- Operates in extreme conditions, resistant to chemical attack and thermal degradation
- Enhanced signal‐to‐noise and steady‐state response enabling analysis from multiple redox species
- Enhanced nuclear fuel cycle and reduced nuclear waste
- Established production method for precise and reproducible control of electrode size and shape
- Enhanced Electroanalysis in Lithium Potassium Eutectic (LKE) Using Microfabricated Square Microelectrodes, Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 4 October 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ac5030842