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  Environmentally strategic decommissioning of Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors led by life cycle assessment

   Department of Chemical Engineering

  ,  Thursday, June 27, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project will apply environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and economic life cycle costing (LCC) to some of the key problems presented by decommissioning activities. The overall aim is to identify major sustainability hotspots, key opportunities for improvements, and ultimately to form a strategic research roadmap to minimise environmental impacts in the most efficient way possible.

The work will focus on the UK’s AGR reactors, beginning by identifying the timelines of all key activities within the decommissioning process and producing LCA models of each step to generate a full cradle-to-grave assessment. The results will include not only carbon footprint, but a broad range of other impacts – such as acidification, eutrophication, and ecotoxicity – to ensure a holistic perspective.

Once this baseline life cycle is established, hotspots will be analysed and impact reduction opportunities explored via LCA and LCC. These opportunities will be determined in collaboration with project partners; some anticipated options include the use of local resources, novel graphite compaction concepts, waste treatment media such as geopolymers, and alternative materials for the construction of infrastructure. The latter may include ‘low-carbon’ concretes (e.g. geopolymer recipes, carbon capture) and scoping opportunities for materials with the potential to be carbon-negative (e.g. cross-laminated timber).

The project will involve close collaboration with Magnox Ltd, National Nuclear Laboratory, and other industry groups such as the Magnox-EDF-NDA working group on AGR decommissioning. On-site visits and two placement periods are anticipated with Magnox Ltd.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2.1 honours degree in Chemical Engineering or a related discipline.

The duration of the PhD is 3.5 years and the start date is April 2024.

How to apply:

You will need to submit an online application through our website here:

When you apply, you will be asked to upload the following supporting documents: 

• Final Transcript and certificates of all awarded university level qualifications

• Interim Transcript of any university level qualifications in progress

• CV

• You will be asked to supply contact details for two referees on the application form ((please make sure that the contact email you provide is an official university/ work email address as we may need to verify the reference)

• English Language certificate (if applicable)

We strongly recommend that you contact the supervisor to discuss the application before you apply. The email address for Dr Stamford is

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder).

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

The PhD is 3.5 years long and is fully funded by NDA, direct collaboration with Magnox Ltd and National Nuclear Laboratory (UK tuition fees and a stipend set at the UKRI rate, which is £18,622 for 2023/2024.

Register your interest for this project