Skip to main content

Ligands on demand

PGR-P-751

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Tuesday 30 June 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Funding
Funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Supervisors
Dr Richard Bourne and Professor Bruce Hanson
Schools
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Current recycling of used nuclear fuel is based on the PUREX process; a solvent extraction process utilising tri-butyl phosphate as a ligand to extract uranium and plutonium. The next generation of recycle processes have been under development for many years and will utilise a new set of ligands that are capable of extracting more elements that are useful for nuclear fuel fabrication (e.g. neptunium, americium, and curium). The processes of most interested in the UK are GANEX and iSANEX. The new family of ligands are linked to these are based on amide molecules. GANEX utilises DEHiBA (N,N-di-(ethyl-2-hexyl)isobutyramide), which extracts Uranium. This is coupled with two other ligands TODGA (N,N,N&prime;,N&prime;?Tetraoctyl diglycolamide) and DMDOHEMA (N,N&prime;-Dimethyl,N,N&prime;-dioctylhexylethoxymalonamide) which extract and then separate the actinides (specifically Am and Cm) from the lanthanides. An alternative to DMDOHEMA being development at present is PTD (2,6-bis[1-(propan-1-ol)-1,2,3-triazol-4-y]pyridine) Small quantities of these ligands are manufactured for R&amp;D activities by specialist chemical synthesis labs, but to prove the viability of an industrial version of the process we need to show that we can scale up production. The purpose of this project to investigate and optimise the manufacture of these ligands. Techniques that have been tested and proven for pharmaceutical molecules will be used. This has led to the creation of a set of self-optimising flow reactors (with machine learning feedback optimisation), installed in the iPRD laboratory at Leeds. Experiments linking these flow reactors to an initial batch reactor will be done on each of the ligands in turn to determine the best manufacture process. Then the process will be tested at larger scale using an alfa-lavel plate reactor. The effectiveness of ligands produced will be determined and compared with existing data on separation factors to show that the production route (and product) is viable.

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

<p>Current recycling of used nuclear fuel is based on the PUREX process; a solvent extraction process utilising tri-butyl phosphate as a ligand to extract uranium and plutonium. The next generation of recycle processes have been under development for many years and will utilise a new set of ligands that are capable of extracting more elements that are useful for nuclear fuel fabrication (e.g. neptunium, americium, and curium).</p> <p>The processes of most interested in the UK are GANEX and iSANEX. The new family of ligands are linked to these are based on amide molecules.</p> <p>GANEX utilises DEHiBA (N,N-di-(ethyl-2-hexyl)isobutyramide), which extracts Uranium.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img height="114" src="file:///C:/Users/prebch/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.png" width="130" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"> <tbody> <tr> <td height="0">&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td height="142">&nbsp;</td> <td align="left"><img height="114" src="file:///C:/Users/prebch/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image005.png" width="337" /></td> <td>&nbsp;</td> <td align="left"><img height="114" src="file:///C:/Users/prebch/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image006.png" width="123" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><br clear="ALL" /> This is coupled with two other ligands TODGA (N,N,N&prime;,N&prime;?Tetraoctyl diglycolamide) and DMDOHEMA (N,N&prime;-Dimethyl,N,N&prime;-dioctylhexylethoxymalonamide) which extract and then separate the actinides (specifically Am and Cm) from the lanthanides.</p> <p>An alternative to DMDOHEMA being development at present is PTD (2,6-bis[1-(propan-1-ol)-1,2,3-triazol-4-y]pyridine)</p> <p><img height="114" src="file:///C:/Users/prebch/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image008.png" width="514" /></p> <p>Small quantities of these ligands are manufactured for R&amp;D activities by specialist chemical synthesis labs, but to prove the viability of an industrial version of the process we need to show that we can scale up production.</p> <p>The purpose of this project to investigate and optimise the manufacture of these ligands. Techniques that have been tested and proven for pharmaceutical molecules will be used. This has led to the creation of a set of self-optimising flow reactors (with machine learning feedback optimisation), installed in the iPRD laboratory at Leeds. Experiments linking these flow reactors to an initial batch reactor will be done on each of the ligands in turn to determine the best manufacture process. Then the process will be tested at larger scale using an alfa-lavel plate reactor. The effectiveness of ligands produced will be determined and compared with existing data on separation factors to show that the production route (and product) is viable.</p> <p>This project would suit gradautes who havea first degree in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering.</p>

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/130206/applying/91/applying_for_research_degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Ligands on demand&rsquo; as well as&nbsp;<a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/chemical-engineering/staff/522/professor-bruce-hanson">Professor Bruce Hanson</a> as your proposed supervisor.</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>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></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>This School of Chemical &amp; Processing Engineering&nbsp;studentship&nbsp;will provide tuition fees at &pound;4,600, together with tax-free stipend, matching&nbsp;UK research council rate of &pound;15,285.</p>

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

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk">phd@engineering.leeds.ac.uk</a></p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Professor Bruce Hanson by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:B.C.Hanson@leeds.ac.uk">B.C.Hanson@leeds.ac.uk</a></p>


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