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Optimal cutting, grasping and packing of irregular-shaped tokamak waste components


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Key facts

Type of research degree
4 year PhD
Application deadline
Monday 31 January 2022
Project start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Centre for doctoral training
Professor Bruce Hanson
Additional supervisors
Professor Julia Bennell, Dr Hamish Carr
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
Research groups/institutes
Centre for Operations and Supply Chain Research, Nuclear Leeds
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The project is jointly funded by RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments), UK Atomic Energy Authority Remote Maintenance Department, GREEN Centre for Doctoral Training and the University of Leeds. <br /> <br /> The project is concerned with the safe and efficient storage of irregularly shaped radioactive components. These are three dimensional components that may be cut to facilitate minimal volume storage. Due to the safety hazards arising from handling nuclear components, any grasping and cutting of the 3D objects must be done through robotic handling. In order to build a solution approach to this problem, we will employ computation and mathematical modelling of the geometric shapes, contact modelling and optimisation algorithms for cutting and packing. We will draw from the fields of operational research, computer science and mathematics. The supervision team will be led by Prof Julia Bennell (Prof of Operational Research) with co-supervision from Prof Hamish Carr (Prof of Computer Science) and Prof Bruce Hanson (Prof of Nuclear Process Engineering) as well as a UKAEA/RACE Engineer. <br /> <br /> The mission of the UK Atomic Energy Authority is to lead the commercial development of fusion power and related technology, and position the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy. <br /> <br /> Based at Culham Science Centre near Oxford, UKAEA runs the UK fusion research programme and operate the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment on behalf of scientists from 28 European countries. UKAEA is keeping Britain at the forefront of fusion as the world comes together to build the first reactor-scale experiment, ITER; one step away from electricity from fusion. The UKAEA aims to make the UK the place where the first fusion power stations are designed. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> UKAEA works with national laboratories, universities and technology businesses to secure benefits for British industry and science, improve the nuclear capability of the UK, and exploit links in areas such as advanced materials, robotics in hazardous environments, nuclear modelling, tritium science, integrated systems and engineering. <br /> <br /> We advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close before the stated deadline, should a suitable candidate be appointed.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{161}" paraid="2001165711">Future fusion devices such as ITER and DEMO will produce high-energy neutron radiation as part of their normal operation. This radiation will be contained inside the plasma vessel (called a &rdquo;tokamak&rdquo;). Every few years, regular maintenance work will involve the removal and replacement of many types of components, for example tokamak wall (&rdquo;blanket&rdquo;) segments damaged by the neutron radiation. The neutrons also activates the components, causing them to emit gamma-radiation for many years. As a consequence, these irregularly-shaped radioactive components will need to be stored for several decades in order to allow the radiation to decay away before final disposal and/or recycling. In order to minimise costs by facilitating more efficient transportation and storage, these components will need to be cut up and packed into containers in the fastest, safest and most space-efficient way possible.? Due to the safety hazards arising from handling nuclear components, the solution to this challenge will involve robotic cutting, grasping, and packing of these components. This work will need to be done as quickly as possible and with minimal human supervision in order to reduce costs.&nbsp;</p> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{167}" paraid="131936649">This problem is a non-linear, multi-objective optimisation problem. The project will build on existing methodologies in geometric topology, computational geometry, mathematical optimisation and optimisation solution algorithms to develop computer based solutions and explore the relationship between the multiple objectives. Candidates require a strong mathematical background and competent programming skills.? Close collaboration with UKAEA and RACE will provide opportunities for short-term placements at the&nbsp;Culham&nbsp;site during the project.&nbsp;</p> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{177}" paraid="1271008906">For further information on this opportunity &ndash;?please visit the&nbsp;GREEN-CDT&nbsp;website. The GREEN CDT is in collaboration with Manchester University, and all GREEN PhDs include an integrated Diploma in Nuclear Energy (conducted within the first six months). Also, please see&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">The Nuclear Engineering Group</a>&nbsp;website for more information on the type of work we conduct at Leeds on nuclear waste management.&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{192}" paraid="1218384682">Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the?<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">University&#39;s website</a>,&nbsp;selecting the programme code EPSRC CDT Nuclear Energy-GREEN.? Please state clearly in the research information section?that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;CDT GREEN: Optimal cutting, grasping and packing of irregular-shaped tokamak waste components&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Professor Julia Bennell</a>,?<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Professor?Hamish Carr</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">Professor Bruce Hanson</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisors.&nbsp;</p> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{230}" paraid="430905923">Our&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noreferrer noopener" target="_blank">webpage</a>&nbsp;provides a list of the supporting documents that we will need to process your application.?&nbsp;</p> <ul role="list"> <li aria-setsize="-1" data-aria-level="1" data-aria-posinset="1" data-font="Symbol" data-leveltext="?" data-listid="1" role="listitem"> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{241}" paraid="1838101583">Scanned copies of transcripts or provisional transcripts for all degree-level qualifications (certified translations must be provided if these are not in English)&nbsp;</p> </li> </ul> <ul role="list"> <li aria-setsize="-1" data-aria-level="1" data-aria-posinset="1" data-font="Symbol" data-leveltext="?" data-listid="1" role="listitem"> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{248}" paraid="701935319">CV - including academic study, work experience and any publications??&nbsp;</p> </li> <li aria-setsize="-1" data-aria-level="1" data-aria-posinset="2" data-font="Symbol" data-leveltext="?" data-listid="1" role="listitem"> <p paraeid="{c7bcfdfe-7d90-4a22-a1bf-ff13f85a3ef3}{255}" paraid="738080400">A personal statement which notes:? the project title, any experience that you have of programming, your mathematical background and any details that you have in working with business or industry clients.&nbsp;</p> </li> <li aria-setsize="-1" data-aria-level="1" data-aria-posinset="3" data-font="Symbol" data-leveltext="?" data-listid="1" role="listitem"> <p paraeid="{914c7b26-ed37-49e2-814b-a45c6656851a}{7}" paraid="1384119959">Names and institutional email addresses of two academic referees&nbsp;</p> </li> <li aria-setsize="-1" data-aria-level="1" data-aria-posinset="4" data-font="Symbol" data-leveltext="?" data-listid="1" role="listitem"> <p paraeid="{914c7b26-ed37-49e2-814b-a45c6656851a}{14}" paraid="324451648">If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).&nbsp;</p> </li> </ul> <p paraeid="{914c7b26-ed37-49e2-814b-a45c6656851a}{21}" paraid="27722826"><strong>Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis, therefore, we?advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close before the stated deadline, should a suitable candidate be appointed. ?For this reason, we require that&nbsp;all&nbsp;supporting documents listed above are submitted at the point of application.&nbsp;</strong></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>A&nbsp;highly competitive joint-funded studentship in partnership with&nbsp;EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy (GREEN-CDT),&nbsp;RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments), UK Atomic Energy Authority and Leeds University Business School,&nbsp;consisting of&nbsp;the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently) &pound;15,609&nbsp;for session 2021/22) for 4&nbsp;years.<br /> <br /> This opportunity is open to all applicants. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy (GREEN-CDT) Studentship&nbsp; Competition&nbsp;and selection is based on academic merit.<br /> <br /> Please refer to the&nbsp;<a href="">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website for&nbsp;information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals starting from September/October 2021.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Professor Julia Bennell<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>