Treatment of degraded nuclear fuels
The materials chemistry of technetium is of critical importance for nuclear energy generation, radioactive waste management, and radiopharmaceuticals. This PhD project will lead development of treatment options to transform these highly radioactive and hazardous materials into a stable form suitable for storage and disposal.
Degraded nuclear fuels and fuel debris comprise a challenging category of radioactive waste with variable physical and chemical composition, they are typically highly radioactive comprising mainly uranium oxide together with fission products and actinides. The project will apply knowledge and investigation of phase diagrams to design uranium oxide based ceramic and glass wasteform materials suitable for incorporation of fuel debris wastes. The project will investigate and optimise ceramic processing, hot isostatic pressing, and glass melting technologies to produce prototype wasteform materials and characterise behaviour relevant to interim storage and disposal (including radiation damage and corrosion in synthetic ground waters). The outcome of the project will support strategic management of the UK degraded nuclear fuel inventory and support decommissioning and remediation of the Chernobyl and Fukushima sites through international collaboration.
You will join a strong and dynamic team of experimental and computational materials chemists, working in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Sheffield research team has unique facilities and capability in the UK to work with actinide materials, created with investment of £3M. The project will also benefit from the investment of £24M in state of the art research facilities at Sheffield as part of the Henry Royce Institute.
This project is sponsored by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The studentship is granted for 3.5 years and includes MSc level taught courses in nuclear science and engineering, with a personalised training and development programme to build radiological, professional and communication skills. Applications are welcomed from candidates with a strong undergraduate interest and/or background in solid state chemistry, condensed matter physics, materials science or related fields.
Funding covers tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of at least the Research Council minimum (currently £14,553) for eligible UK and EU applicants. EU nationals must have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the programme to be eligible for a full award (fees and stipend). Other EU nationals may be eligible for a fees-only award.