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Merlijn Mertens

Merlijn Mertens

Erasmus Mundus Fusion PhD student

Center for Molecular Modeling Ghent University

Technologiepark 903

B-9052 Zwijnaarde Belgium


Mobile phone: +32498735830

Office number:



        • BSc in Physics and Astronomy, Ghent University, Belgium, 2013
        • European Msc in Nuclear Fusion and Engineering Physics, Ghent University, 2012



                      • Merlijn Mertens obtained his master degree of Nuclear Fusion and Engineering Physics at the Ghent University within the framework of the Erasmus Mundus Fusion-EP program. To obtain this degree he attended relevant courses at Madrid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid & Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) for 2 semesters, at Ghent (Ghent University) for 1 semester and finally completed his Master thesis at Germany (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – Tritium Laboratory Karlsruhe).
                        This Master thesis discussed the design of a Vacuum Sieve Tray experiment with tritium. This is promising method to extract tritium from liquid PbLi breeding blankets in future nuclear fusion reactors.

                              Research interests

                              • Tritium breeding blankets (design and issues). - Ab initio calculations of the stability of polonium containing molecules - The efficient removal of polonium containing molecules from the liquid PbLi breeder.

                              Research description

                              • Nuclear fusion reactors have the potential to become an essential part of the future sustainable energy mix of our society. The special conditions inside such a reactor put many constraints on the materials that can be used, and therefore dedicated materials engineering is an essential part of the reactor design process. This PhD focuses on the issue of the undesired polonium production in the so-called Pb-Li breeding blanket.
                                As polonium is radiotoxic, and as its production cannot be entirely avoided, it is important to understand how these polonium atoms will interact with their environment. Knowing which molecules they form and as which solids they might condense is essential information in order to design, for instance, proper filter systems.
                                Given the safety issues when experimenting with polonium, it is valuable to acquire as much as possible a priori information before entering the experimental stage. Therefore, this work aims at computing from the first principles of quantum physics the likeliness of existence and the properties of polonium-containing molecules and solids. This will limit the number of future experiments, and will increase the information that can be extracted from those experiments.

                                Distinction and awards





                                      • Journal publications
                                      • Books and book chapters
                                      • Conference papers (peer-reviewed)
                                      • Conference papers (not peer-reviewed)
                                      • Conference abstracts
                                      • Other