Skip to main content

Preparing Corroded Magnox Fuel Waste for Long Term Storage: Rheology Mapping of Complex Fluids


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 15 July 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Competition funded
Source of funding
Centre for doctoral training
Dr David Harbottle
Additional supervisors
Dr Timothy Hunter, Martin Barnes (Sellafield Ltd)
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The UK&rsquo;s nuclear sector is actively undertaking substantial decommissioning projects of its legacy facilities. One key challenge is the safe recovery and processing of waste for long term storage. A particular waste is corroded magnesium alloy clad uranium metal fuel that has formed sludge and is currently contained in open and closed facilities on the Sellafield site. Encapsulating the sludge for long term storage is a high priority for the industry. To mobilize and process the material it is important to understand its rheological properties and how rheology is modified when adding secondary chemicals. Flow modifiers (colloidal silica) have been shown to significantly lower yield stress of concentrated sludges making them easier to process. However, there is limited understanding on modifying the rheology using geo-polymers, an additive that is used to eventually solidify the waste when activated. This project will map the rheological space of these complex fluids containing waste simulants, flow enhancers and geo-polymers. By fundamentally understanding the nature of the interactions between the different chemical species, and determining how those interactions modify sludge rheology, it will be possible to design processes that can handle variable waste streams and produce encapsulated wastes that are safe for long term storage.

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

<p style="margin-bottom:11px">The project will contribute to the clean-up of the UK&rsquo;s nuclear waste legacy. The clean-up of legacy nuclear facilities, as well as waste clean-up and disposal, stand as matters of increasing urgency throughout the nuclear industry, with UK Government recognising decommissioning of these facilities and waste management as a national priority. UK government remains committed to nuclear energy&rsquo;s role in delivering a secure, low-carbon and affordable energy future, with nuclear power also helping to ensure diversity of supply, contributing to the UK&rsquo;s energy security and growth. Public acceptance of this strategy, however, requires a demonstrable ability to safely manage and dispose of waste, with acceptance linked to having scientifically robust routes for the safe clean-up of waste and its disposal. This project will contribute to waste management and clean-up through innovations that can be applied on nuclear sites and that are clearly socially desirable and in the public interest.</p> <p><strong>About&nbsp;SATURN_Nuclear_CDT</strong></p> <p>This project is part of the&nbsp;<a href="">Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in SATURN (Skills And Training Underpinning a Renaissance in Nuclear)</a>. It is led from the University of Manchester and includes leading nuclear research universities in the North of England and Scottland (University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, Lancaster University, University of Liverpool, University of Strathclyde). We aim to deliver the next generation of nuclear researchers to help the UK achieve its Net Zero targets and beyond, in a collegial cohort environment. The CDT will also include technical training in the nuclear fuel cycle to ensure all candidates are familiar with the nuclear sector, and specialist research skills training.</p>

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

<p style="text-align:start; margin-bottom:24px">Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for&nbsp;<em><strong>EPSRC CDT SATURN &ndash;&nbsp;Nuclear Science and Engineering</strong></em>,&nbsp;in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;<em><strong>Preparing Corroded Magnox Fuel Waste for Long Term Storage: Rheology Mapping of Complex Fluids</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as <a href="">Dr David Harbottle</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor and&nbsp;<em><strong>in the finance section, please state clearly that the funding source you are applying for is EPSRC CDT SATURN</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p>Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 15 July 2024:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

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

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master&rsquo;s Degree or equivalent from a reputable university in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor&rsquo;s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant 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 highly competitive EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Skills And Training Underpinning a Renaissance in Nuclear (SATURN)&nbsp;studentship in partnership with Sellafield Ltd, offering the award of fees, together with a tax-free maintenance grant of &pound;19,237 per year for 4&nbsp;years.&nbsp; Training and support will also be provided.<br /> <br /> This opportunity is open to UK applicants only. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in SATURN Studentship Competition 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.</p>

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

<p>For further information about this project, please contact Dr David Harbottle by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about the CDT SATURN programme, please contact the CDT SATURN Programme Team by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;or Dr Timothy Hunter (Programme Director) by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>