Department of Physics and Astronomy

Ph.D. position in Fuel and Core Design for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) 

The research conducted at the Department of Physics and Astronomy encompasses a wide range of physics topics, distributed over ten divisions. The department is located in the Ångström laboratory and employs nearly 400 people, 125 of whom are doctoral students. It offers a broad physics curriculum to undergraduate and graduate students, participation in nationally and internationally leading projects for researchers, and opportunities for partnership with industry and various outreach activities.

The project will be performed with Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB as the project lead. The company is part of the Westinghouse Electric Company, a global-leading supplier of safe and innovative nuclear technology. Westinghouse is present in 21 countries and has about 19,000 employees who work with everything in nuclear power; from research and development, new build, fuel production, service and maintenance to decommissioning when the reactors have reached their end of life. About 50 percent of all reactors worldwide are based on Westinghouse technology.

Westinghouse Sweden has approximately 900 employees. Primary operations are in Västerås, which encompass a fuel factory with an annual production of about 600 tons of uranium dioxide. The fuel factory produces fuel for PWR, BWR and VVER reactors and supplies approximately 1/3 of the nuclear fuel used in Europe. Westinghouse Sweden has a long history of nuclear technology, originating from ASEA Atom in the 1960s, which built 11 BWR-nuclear reactors in the Nordic region.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University and Westinghouse invite applications for a four years Ph.D. position in fuel and core design for small modular reactor (SMR) concepts.

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The doctoral student will be employed at Uppsala University with placement in Västerås where the project is conducted at the Westinghouse office. The position relates to projects within the Swedish competence centre ANItA (Academic-industrial Nuclear technology Initiative to Achieve a sustainable energy future), which integrates Swedish technical and nontechnical expertise of Uppsala University, Chalmers, KTH, Vattenfall, Uniper, Fortum, Westinghouse, Studsvik Nuclear and the Swedish Energy Agency in nuclear technology and engineering.

Collaborative research, development, and education of the centre aim to create a Swedish knowledge and competence base needed for the introduction of novel nuclear power technologies such as Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and provide relevant information, in particular, to policymakers for timely decisions on the future Swedish energy generation mix.

Within the ANItA, the leading universities in Sweden collaborate with leading Nordic companies in the nuclear energy sector. This offers doctoral students and postdocs a strong research environment, a unique industrial application potential, and excellent opportunities for international partnerships.

The project concerns the development of fuel and core design solutions for selected SMR concepts based on existing or modified Light Water Reactor (LWR) fuel. A fundamental understanding of the characteristics of SMR core concepts shall be developed. Core design strategies that maximise fuel economy and fuel operation efficiency shall be explored. As indicated in several SMR concepts currently under development, the exclusion of soluble boron as a possible reactivity control mechanism is expected to lead to significantly different core physics conditions requiring novel solutions. In the case of smaller cores, even the identification and design of optimal reflector components will be required.

Since SMR core conditions (core sizes, fuel heights, core power and flow densities, operating pressure, fuel cycle lengths, fuel burnups, etc.) differ from the conditions in today’s large plants, further development is needed to ensure a technical and economic optimal fuel assembly design.

The Ph.D. student will use existing or modified computational tools within Westinghouse for fuel and core design. Collaboration with subject matter experts will be essential for the project.


To meet the entry requirements for doctoral studies, you must

  • have studied nuclear engineering, reactor physics, or related disciplines,
  • hold a Master’s (second-cycle) degree in physics, engineering or a related discipline, or
  • have completed at least 240 credits in higher education, with at least 60 credits at Master’s level including an independent project worth at least 15 credits, or
  • have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way

The candidate must be able to communicate well in English, both orally and in writing.

It is possible to apply for the position before the qualification requirements are met, but the qualification requirements must be met before the studies starts.

Additional qualifications

Prior experience in core or fuel design and core simulator tools is desired. Specific knowledge of SMRs and their core characteristics is beneficial but is not a requirement for the position. Personal abilities such as independence, flexibility, an ability to work in a structured manner and to cooperate with others are of value.

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 %. Starting date as agreed.

Placement: Västerås

For further information about the position, please contact: 

Uffe Bergmann,

Henrik Sjöstrand,

Please submit your application by 2 May 2023, UFV-PA 2023/1093.

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Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2023-08-01
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2023/1093
Union representative
  • ST/TCO,
  • Seko Universitetsklubben,
  • Saco-rådet,
Published 23.Mar.2023
Last application date 02.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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