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GREENCDT Sequestration of metals from legacy ponds using artificial corals

   EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy - GREEN

   Wednesday, August 31, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


  1. Professor Bruce Hanson
  2. Dr Dominic Rhodes (Sellafield Ltd)

In the 1970’s work was started to “grow” artificial corals in order to remediate damage to natural systems. The method was to use an electrochemical process to deposit a hard ceramic material from the metals and anions present in sea water and this created what was essentially brucite (Mg(OH)2) deposits on a cathode. The work was reported as electrochemical deposition; which equates to electrowinning, as the anode was sacrificial, consisting of steel meshes.

More recently, a PhD project @ Leeds has proven that metallic magnesium (as a cathode) can be directly converted in to a cementitious phase (brucite + hydromagnesite) in high salt concentrations. The cement formed is stable and would be suitable as a waste form.

At Sellafield there are legacy facilities that contain sludges and metallic scrap that has slowly dissolved into the surrounding water. Whilst Sellafield Ltd has been developing technologies to deal with the sludges and metallic scrap, the water itself remains an issue, as it contains high level of magnesium, fission product metals and hydroxide ions.

The aim of this project is to investigate the electrochemical deposition of magnesium and fission product metals in the presence of hydroxide and carbonate ions in order to determine whether electrowinning or electromigration dominate and define conditions under which a ceramic phase can be produced.

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