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Containing our nuclear waste: can we store it “forever”?


Department of Mechanical Engineering

About the Project

On June 27, 1954, the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, USSR, became the world’s first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid, producing approximately 5 megawatts of power. Since then, nuclear power has experienced significant development and growth, with current Light Water Reactor designs possessing a generating capacity upwards of 325 gigawatts (IAEA, 2009). However, one of the underlying problems of nuclear energy, disposal of spent nuclear fuel, is of crucial importance. Radiation leaks could lead to devastating effects (think Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima).

The aim of this project is to numerically analyse one of the existing storage methods, namely Dry Cask Storage for spent nuclear fuel disposal under thermal, mechanical and ionising radiation load conditions at different lengths of its storage period. Special attention will be focused on the concrete case present in the Dry Cask Storage method, its behaviour, performance and life-time.

By effectively modelling the behaviour of these storage methods, this project will provide a crucial step towards understanding, more effectively controlling, and ultimately extending the life-time of existing storage, aiming at avoiding the “Catastrophic Leaks” of radioactive waste that happened in April 2016 in Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State.

Funding Notes

1st or 2:1 degree in Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics, or other Relevant Discipline.

Previous experience / requirements: Finite element modelling

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