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R&D Test Engineer - Molten nitrate salt

ABG-100922 Emploi Niveau d'expérience indifférent
03/11/2021 CDI Salaire à négocier
Logo de
Les Loges en Josas - Ile-de-France - France
  • Chimie
  • Matériaux
energy storage, renewable electricity, stirling engine, nuclear physics
Recherche et Développement


Airthium develops a seasonal energy storage system, that will allow 100% renewable electricity to eventually become cheaper than today’s mostly fossil fuel-based electricity.
Our seasonal “battery” has 300 to 10,000 hours capacity, meaning it can supply its users for up to one whole year at rated power, should the rest of the grid go down.
Our system is based on a new type of high efficiency, low cost, reversible Stirling engine. It is a hybrid system with two storage cycles combined.

The first storage cycle is seasonal, from 300 to 10,000 hours, based on the use of ammonia (NH3) as synthetic, zero carbon fuel. Our ammonia is made from water, air, and renewable electricity, is stored for up to a year, and then burned in a low-NOx burner. The combustion heat is converted into electricity by our Stirling engine, and the combustion reaction releases nitrogen and water back into the air. Ammonia does not release any CO2 when burned.
Seasonal storage based on ammonia is up to 100x cheaper than the state of the art (Lithiumion).
However, it has limited roundtrip efficiency (28-35%).

The second storage cycle is inter-day, from 10 to 40 hours, based on the use of molten salt as a heat storage medium, with a pumped heat energy storage (PHES) application. In PHES, first, our Stirling engine is used as a heat pump to heat up molten salt using renewable electricity; then, the heat is stored in large molten salt tanks for 10 - 40 hours; and finally, the Stirling engine is used as a heat engine to convert the heat back into electricity. PHES has a reasonably low cost (down to $50/kWh electrical) and higher roundtrip efficiency (70%).

We combine both cycles in a cost-efficient way, as all heat to power and power to heat conversion steps in both cycles are performed by the same Stirling engine. This is how we achieve a very low cost for 100% renewable electricity, guaranteed available all year long. A cost so low, that it is planned to eventually become cheaper than fossil fuels.
The main breakthrough in our technology comes from the high efficiency, low-cost Stirling engine, in which we implement a new way to perform fast, near-isothermal gas compression at high temperatures.

Poste et missions

We are hiring a R&D engineer to design, procure, assemble, operate, monitor, upgrade and service live molten salt loops. Those loops are used for prototyping and developing a new kind of seasonal energy storage system, based on ammonia for long duration storage, and molten salt for daily cycling storage. This storage system is designed to fully replace coal-fired, gas-fired and nuclear power plants as the backup source of power when the sun and wind go down. Eventually, it will help make 100% renewable electricity cheaper than today’s mostly fossil electricity.

The main tasks are to :                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Create a lab equipped to operate with molten nitrate salts, that complies with French and European safety regulations;
- Set-up and maintain live, monitored molten nitrate salt experimental test loops; Design relevant experiments, produce reports, and compile knowledge regarding salt manipulation within the specific operating conditions of the Airthium system;
- Work with outside contractors for the development of our large-scale molten salt systems. Act as liaison, and learn from them;
- Contribute to the design of the Airthium Stirling engine.

The Airthium team consists of eight people, four on-site and four remote.
We build, test and run experiments in our laboratory and have our own workshop with industrial machining facilities, both CNC and conventional. We also benefit from access to some of Air Liquide's facilities and expertise.

Airthium's offices and labs are inside the Air Liquide Research Center Campus, in Les Loges en Josas, but we may work with you remotely, closer to where you are.

Mobilité géographique :


Prise de fonction :



We are looking for a PhD or senior engineer in materials or chemical science or physics.

The applicant should have a strong experimental background and have good technical skills with experimental techniques and instrumentation.
The applicant will have to manipulate molten nitrate salts. Ideally, the applicant should already possess hands-on experience with molten nitrate salts, any other kind of molten salt, or systems with similar constraints. This would include, and is not limited to, any of the following: high temperature fluids, insulation, thermal expansion, heat tracing, procuring of equipment and instruments, corrosion, mass transfer, sealing, effects of welding, impurities, pumps, heat exchangers, and compliance of parts sourced worldwide.

Qualities we are looking for
- Autonomous. While still coordinating with the team and reporting to the Airthium management, you will eventually be making independent decisions regarding chemistry experiments.
- Tinkerer. We need hands on experience, not pure theory. Molten salts can get hot and messy, and we need working solutions that can be built within a few months.
- Initiative. There are currently no off-the-shelf solutions for the Airthium system so you will have to be a creative force.
- Lead. As the dedicated chemical engineer at Airthium, you will eventually lead a team.
- Open minded. We are disrupting the 200-year-old Stirling engine technology. If it were simple, someone would have done it already. We base ourselves on first principles thinking.
- Motivation for the mission. We are challenging the statu quo of fossil fuels as the only backup power and cheapest form of energy 365 days a year. We are building this so one day there will be a way to address major sources of pollution to our biosphere (including solid waste) with cheap yet dependable renewable energy as the driving force.

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