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Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Atomistic simulation of Am incorporation into PuO2

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, April 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

• Hours: Full Time
• Eligibility: UK and EU Students
• Closing Date: 28/04/19

This project will employ advanced atomistic simulation methods to understand the corrosion behaviour of plutonium during long term storage.

The UK currently holds the world’s largest stockpile of plutonium. For storage the Pu was converted into PuO2 and sealed in inert steel canisters under argon. Since sealing, some canisters exhibit signs of becoming pressurised raising concerns over their viability over anticipated lifetimes. A possible explanation for this pressurisation is the evolution of hydrogen gas from corrosion of the surface by entrained water.
Conditions in the canisters may not appear sufficiently oxidising to promote corrosion, at least not by water. However, recent experiments suggest the existence of a hyperstocihiometric PuO2+x phase that may act as a precursor to corrosion. Oxidation may be driven by radiolysis of water or by changes in the defect chemistry of PuO2 due to radioactive decay, in particular accumulation of Americium. Americium exhibits complex chemistry with multiple oxidation states some of which may promote formation of PuO2+x.
Therefore, this project will employ density functional theory (DFT) to understand the defect chemistry of PuO2 and how incorporation of Am will influence reactions at the surface. The project forms part of the large EPSRC funded TRANSCEND: Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear Decommissioning project and will involve close collaboration with National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

You should have or expect to obtain soon at least a 2:1 in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering or a related discipline. You should have excellent technical abilities and the desire to work in a multidisciplinary environment.

Funding Notes

Funding covers full payment of UK/EU tuition fees (at the standard RCUK rate) and an annual tax-free stipend of £15,009 (which will increment yearly) for a 3 year period.

How good is research at Lancaster University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.98

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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