Research Staff, Oak Ridge National Lab
Jacob (Jake) McMurray graduated from the University of Tennessee (UT) as a Bredesen Center fellow with a Ph.D. in Energy Science and Engineering in 2014 and is currently a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). His primary role is to understand the chemistry of molten salt systems and uranium bearing ceramics to support process development and performance modeling of advanced reactor fuels.
His graduate research in materials thermodynamics focused on chemical potential measurements and modeling of uranium oxide systems with a lanthanide, yttrium, and thorium using the CALPHAD (CALculation of PHAse Diagrams) method. The work represents a significant contribution by UT and ORNL to the TAF-ID (Thermodynamics of Advanced Fuels International Database) that aims to simulate the thermochemistry of nuclear fuel systems with fission, activation, and corrosion products.
In 2013, Dr. McMurray joined the Material Science and Technology Division at ORNL where he extended his prior research by coupling thermodynamics with physics-based simulations of heat and oxygen transport in UO2. He broadened his background by applying his expertise towards development of fabrication routes for high density uranium nitride microspheres for accident tolerant fuel (ATF) designs.
In 2017, interest in uranium bearing oxide-carbide composite microspheres was renewed by the Department of Energy (DOE) through an Advanced Reactor Concept Cooperative Agreement Award led by X-energy, LLC and in 2018 DOE initiated a molten salt reactor program. Dr. McMurray continues to use fundamental thermodynamics to explore fabrication routes and processing conditions to improve the properties of uranium bearing oxide, carbide, and nitride microspheres and develop models to understand molten salt chemistry. He is also leading an ORNL directed project to develop phase change materials for high temperature thermal energy storage, a broad-based technology that can be applied to nuclear, fossil, and concentrating solar power systems.
Dissertation Title: Thermodynamic Modeling of Uranium and Oxygen Containing Ternary Systems with Gadolinium, Lanthanum, and Thorium
Mentor: Theodore M. Besmann
Dissertation Description: Experimental measurements and computational thermodynamics of uranium oxide nuclear fuel material.
PhD in Energy Science and Engineering - University of Tennessee
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering - University of Mississippi