hero image
Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D. - VCU College of Engineering. Richmond, VA, US

Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D.

Engineering Foundation Professor and Director of Nuclear Engineering Programs | VCU College of Engineering


Professor Phongikaroon's research focuses on pedagogy and experimental studies in used nuclear fuel reprocessing.








Dr. Phongikaroon earned his PhD and BS degrees in chemical engineering and nuclear engineering from University of Maryland, College Park in 2001 and 1997, respectively. Prior joining the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in January 2014, he held academic and research positions at University of Idaho in Idaho Falls, ID; Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, ID; and Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. During his research career, Dr. Phongikaroon has established chemical and electrochemical separation of used nuclear fuel through pyroprocessing technology and extended his expertise toward molten salt reactor physics and material detection and accountability for safeguarding applications. These developments include kinetics in ion exchange process, advanced chemical separation routines via cold fingers and zone freezing, electrochemical methods, laser induced breakdown spectroscopy, and computational modeling for electrorefiner. This effort has led to a strong establishment of Radiochemistry and Laser Spectroscopy Laboratories at VCU.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (3)

Nuclear and chemical separation technology in fuel cycle research and development

Electrochemical processes

Special material detection and analysis via laser and mass spectroscopy techniques

Accomplishments (1)

Outstanding Contributor Award (professional)

Awarded by the Center for Advanced Energy Studies.

Education (2)

University of Maryland: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering 2001

University of Maryland: B.S., Nuclear Engineering, Chemical Engineering 1997

Media Appearances (2)

VCU’s nuclear engineering program marks 10th anniversary

Nuclear News  print


VCU’s nuclear engineering program is advancing a strong research agenda. Highlights include Tepper’s study of uranyl soil extraction and fluorescence enhancement by silica gel, which resulted in a new method to allow fast and sensitive measurement of uranium in soil. Bilbao y León’s research on branding the nuclear fuel cycle offers a comprehensive approach to communicating with the public about nuclear energy and building a better understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle. This year, Supathorn Phongikaroon, associate professor of nuclear engineering, and his team developed a method to measure and produce near real-time measurements of the elemental concentration of salts in nuclear electro-refiners using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. This process helps ensure material accountability and safeguards of special nuclear materials.

Media Appearance Image

view more

Laser research could benefit nuclear recycling

Phys.org  online


Today, the process to analyze isotopes is time-intensive—typically taking days to transport, process and analyze a sample. For international safeguards, this process takes even longer, since the samples must be sent to a different facility, often in another country. At the CAES Radiochemistry Laboratory, researchers are working to prove a method that would reduce that time to a matter of minutes. 'This is vital in improving material accountability in nuclear reprocessing,' said Supathorn Phongikaroon, a University of Idaho/CAES researcher and the project's principal investigator...

view more

Research Focus (7)

Compositional Analysis of Fission Elements in Rapid Setting Cement as an Immobilization Agent for Nuclear Waste

Riyadh Motny, PHD Candidate

The study focuses on assessment on the RSC and its usage in capturing certain elements (fission products or radioactive materials) within its structure and development of a detection method for radioactive elements captured in ceramic materials.

Research focus Image

Elucidation of Electrochemical Properties of Alkaline/Alkaline Earth, and Actinide Elements on Liquid Metal in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt

Michael Woods, PHD Student

The study focuses on fundamental electrochemical properties of alkali/alkaline earth fission products and possible actinide elements in LiCl-KCl molten salts with liquid metal electrodes in a controlled glovebox environment, for possible improvement on reprocessing technology applications.

Research focus Image

Innovative Materials Detection and Analysis by Quasi-Simultaneous Use of Voltammetric Techniques and Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy on Used Nuclear Fuel Treatment

Hunter Andrews, PHD Student

The study focuses on determining the material compositions and characteristics of unknown materials by creating a database of information using measurements from a quasi-simultaneous system utilizing different voltammetric methods (e.g., cyclic voltammetry (CV), chronopotentiometry (CP), etc.) and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS).

Research focus Image

Fundamental Study of Uranium Morphology in LiCl-KCl Eutectic

Dimitris Killinger, PHD Student

A study done on uranium morphology during pyroprocessing is necessary and beneficial in determining the sources and causes of the impurities stated above. In doing so, methods and technologies can be developed in order to produce higher purity products with pyroprocessing achievable, increasing the efficiency of the nuclear fuel cycle. This increase in efficiency will cause a decrease in purchase costs of natural uranium and avoidance of disposal costs for large volume of spent fuel, which supports the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) mission’s research objective to develop sustainable fuel cycle.

Research focus Image

Study of Molten Salt Physical Properties

Reginald Jones, Undergraduate Intern

This study focuses on different techniques for measuring physical properties of molten salt such as density and viscosity.

Research focus Image

Silver/Silver Chloride Reference Electrode Study

Adam Baggett, Undergraduate Intern

This work focuses on understanding the equilibrium electrode potentials of silver-chlorine galvanic cell and silver chloride in LiCl-KCl molten salt.

Research focus Image

Inspection of Ancient Obsidian Artifacts via LIBS

Ivan Cano, Undergraduate Intern

Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) will be used in this study to explore a hydration dating of ancient obsidian artifacts.

Research focus Image

Research Grants (6)

Fundamental Data toward Silver-Silver Chloride Reference Electrodes

Idaho National Laboratory $140,000

Duration: December 2016 – December 2018

Fundamental Study of Uranium Morphology in LiCl-KCl Eutectic

Idaho National Laboratory $160,000

Duration: December 2016 – December 2018

Fundamental Electrochemical Properties of Liquid Metals in LiCl-KCl for Separation of Alkali/Alkaline-Earths (Cs, Sr and Ba)

Nuclear Energy University Program—U.S. Department of Energy $240,000

Duration: September 2015 – September 2018 Subcontract distribution from the Pennsylvania State University

Development and Optimization of Voltammetric Methods for Real Time Analysis of Electrorefiner Salt with High Concentrations of Actinides and Fission

Nuclear Energy University Program—U.S. Department of Energy $244,992

Duration: September 2014 – December 2017 Subcontract distribution from University of Utah

Safeguards in Pyroprocessing: An Integrated Model Development and Measurement Data Analysis

Nuclear Energy University Program—U.S. Department of Energy $300,000

Duration: September 2013 – October 2017 Subcontract distribution from the Ohio State University

Measurement of Irradiated Pyroprocessing Samples via Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

Nuclear Energy University Program—U.S. Department of Energy $820,000

Duration: September 2012 – August 2016

Courses (5)

EGMN 691 - Fast Reactors (Spring 2017)

This course is designed to give the graduate students an overview on the Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) technology focusing on the following topics: (1) breeding and the role of fast breeder reactors – basic physics, strategy analysis and uranium resources; (2) FBR design consideration – brief aspect in to the mechanical and thermal systems including core materials; (3) economic analysis of nuclear reactors; (4) nuclear design through multi-group diffusion theory; (5) reactor kinetics; and (6) fuel burnup.

EGMN 352 - Nuclear Reactor Theory (Spring 2017, Spring 2015)

This course introduces the fundamental properties of the neutron, the reactions induced by neutrons, nuclear fission, the slowing down of neutrons in infinite and finite media, diffusion theory, the 1-group or 2-group approximation, point kinetics, and fission-product effects. Provides students with the nuclear reactor theory foundation necessary for reactor design and reactor engineering problems.

EGMN 591 - Nuclear Safeguards, Security, and Nonproliferation (Spring 2016)

This course will explore the political and technological issues involved with nuclear safeguards, security, and nonproliferation. Topics studied will include the history of nuclear weapons development, description and effects of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear material safeguards, protection of nuclear materials, proliferation resistance and pathways in the nuclear fuel cycle, international and domestic safeguards, nuclear terrorism, and safeguards measurement techniques for material accountancy programs and physical protection mechanisms.

EGMN 453 - Economics of Nuclear Power Production (Fall 2015, Fall 2014)

Fundamentals of engineering economic analysis are applied to energy supply, demand, prices and production with specific emphasis on nuclear energy, the capital cost of nuclear power plants, the nuclear fuel cycle and associated energy technologies.

EGMN 610 - Topics in Nuclear Engineering (Fall 2016)

This course is intended to provide the introductory first-year graduate students with comprehensive overview of nuclear energy, nuclear engineering and its many facets; topics, themes and issues may include the following: atomic and fission physics, radiation and radioactive decay, nuclear reactor physics, nuclear reactor kinetics and control, reactor energy removal, nuclear fuel cycle, reactors systems (reactor types, similarities and differences, nuclear plant components, conventional and advanced next generation nuclear reactors, and etc.), reactor materials, radiation exposure and shielding, reactor accidents, safety and analyses.

Selected Articles (17)

A Novel Framework for Intelligent Signal Detection via Artificial Neural Networks for Cyclic Voltammetry in Pyroprocessing Technology

ANNALS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY Volume: 111 Pages: 242-254 (2018)

Pouri, Samaneh Rakhshan; Manic, Milos, Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1016/j.anucene.2017.09.002

Measurement of Cerium and Gadolinium in Solid Lithium Chloride-Potassium Chloride Salt Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)

APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY Volume: 71 Issue: 10 Pages: 2302-2312 (2017)

Williams, Ammon; Bryce, Keith; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1177/0003702817709298

Electrochemical and Thermodynamic Properties of UCl3 in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt System and LiCl-KCl-GdCl3 System

JOURNAL OF THE ELECTROCHEMICAL SOCIETY Volume: 164 Issue: 9 Pages: E217-E225 (2017)

Yoon, Dalsung; Phongikaroon, Supathorn


Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) in a Novel Molten Salt Aerosol System

APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY Volume: 71 Issue: 4 Pages: 744-749 (2017)

Williams, Ammon N.; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1177/0003702816648965

An Interactive Reverse-Engineering Cyclic Voltammetry for Uranium Electrochemical Studies in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY Volume: 197 Issue: 3 Pages: 308-319 (2017)

Pouri, Samaneh Rakhshan; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1080/00295450.2016.1273730

Measurement and Analysis of Exchange Current Density for U/U3+ Reaction in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt via Various Electrochemical Techniques

ELECTROCHIMICA ACTA Volume: 227 Pages: 170-179 (2017)

Yoon, Dalsung; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2017.01.011

Elemental Detection of Cerium and Gadolinium in Aqueous Aerosol Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

APPLIED SPECTROSCOPY Volume: 70 Issue: 10 Pages: 1700-1708 (2016)

Williams, Ammon N.; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1177/0003702816648327

Effects of temperature, concentration, and uranium chloride mixture on zirconium electrochemical studies in LiCI-KCI eutectic salt

JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS Volume: 476 Pages: 179-187 (2016)

Hoover, Robert O.; Yoon, Dalsung; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2016.04.037

Electrochemical and Thermodynamic Properties of CeCl3 on Liquid Cadmium Cathode (LCC) in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt

JOURNAL OF THE ELECTROCHEMICAL SOCIETY Volume: 163 Issue: 3 Pages: E97-E103 (2016)

Yoon, Dalsung; Phongikaroon, Supathorn; Zhang, Jinsuo

DOI: 10.1149/2.0101605jes


NUCLEAR ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY Volume: 47 Issue: 7 Pages: 867-874 (2015)

Williams, Ammon N.; Pack, Michael; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1016/j.net.2015.08.006

Comparison between Numerical Simulations and Experimental Results on Copper Deposition in Rotating Cylinder Hull Cell

ELECTROCHIMICA ACTA Volume: 164 Pages: 218-226 (2015)

Park, Jaeyeong; Choi, Sungyeol; Hoover, Robert; et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2015.02.160

Electrochemical Properties and Analyses of CeCl3 in LiCl-KCl Eutectic Salt

JOURNAL OF THE ELECTROCHEMICAL SOCIETY Volume: 162 Issue: 10 Pages: E237-E243 (2015)

Yoon, D.; Phongikaroon, S.

DOI: 10.1149/2.0401510jes

Electrochemical studies and analysis of 1-10 wt% UCl3 concentrations in molten LiCl-KCl eutectic

JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS Volume: 452 Issue: 1-3 Pages: 389-396 (2014)

Hoover, Robert O.; Shaltry, Michael R.; Martin, Sean; Sridharan, K; Phongikaroon, S.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2014.05.057

Experimental Study of Salt Bead Dissolutions in Aqueous Solvents

INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY RESEARCH Volume: 53 Issue: 34 Pages: 13550-13556 (2014)

Shaltry, Michael; Phongikaroon, Supathorn

DOI: 10.1021/ie502608v

Temperature effect on laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy spectra of molten and solid salts


Hanson, Cynthia; Phongikaroon, Supathorn; Scott, Jill R

DOI: 10.1016/j.sab.2014.04.012


NUCLEAR ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY Volume: 46 Issue: 3 Pages: 395-406 (2014)

Versey, Joshua R.; Phongikaroon, Supathorn; Simpson, Michael F.

DOI: 10.5516/NET.06.2013.082

Measurements and analysis of oxygen bubble distributions in LiCl-KCl molten salt

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING RESEARCH & DESIGN Volume: 91 Issue: 3 Pages: 418-425 (2013)

Phongikaroon, Supathorn; Bezzant, Ryan W.; Simpson, Michael F.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cherd.2012.09.010