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Life cycle environmental and economic modelling for nuclear waste management strategy

Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science

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Dr L Stamford No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is an opportunity to be part of a multi-disciplinary project with the potential for international influence in the nuclear waste management, disposal and decommissioning sector. The successful candidate will be based in the Sustainable Industrial Systems research group in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, supervised by Dr Laurence Stamford. They will also benefit from co-supervision by Prof. Anthony Banford of National Nuclear Laboratory.

As society begins to place higher emphasis on environmental stewardship and reduction of waste streams, it is important that the nuclear community takes efficient management of waste streams as a top priority. In addition, as more legacy waste sites are being cleaned, and as many existing nuclear power plants throughout Europe move towards decommissioning, there are greater volumes of radioactive wastes to process prior to permanent geological disposal.

This PhD project will play a key role in the €24-million PREDIS project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme ( It will involve working closely with a broad range of 47 partners across Europe as they develop new processes to treat metallic, liquid-organic, solid-organic, and cemented radioactive waste. In particular, it will involve close cooperation with the UK’s National Nuclear Lab (NNL), the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

The project itself will focus on the environmental and economic impacts of different nuclear waste treatment approaches, The overall aims of the project are as follows:
1. Develop a consistent and comprehensive approach to evaluating the environmental and economic impacts of radioactive waste pre-disposal treatment activities.
2. Evaluate the environmental and economic impacts of a set of state-of-the-art nuclear waste management processes being developed throughout the EU, simultaneously working with project partners to inform the development of those processes.

A core aim of this work is to ensure the incorporation of life cycle thinking and circular economy principles into the technological development and selection of processes. These principles are in line with a range of EU policy-oriented precedents including the Environmental Footprinting activities established by the Communication from the Commission: Building the Single Market for Green Products (COM/2013/196), the EU Recommendation 2013/179/EU, and the inclusion of LCA in the European Commission’s Better Regulation Toolbox as a method for supporting the impact assessment of policies.

As this PhD is part of such a large project consortium (the PREDIS project), it should provide excellent industrial links. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will have the opportunity to visit some of the project partners in their home countries and gain first-hand experience of waste treatment R&D, as well as gaining wider expertise in nuclear waste disposal and nuclear decommissioning.

Funding Notes

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree in an engineering-related discipline.

The funding available will cover tuition fees and living expenses (maintenance grant) for the duration of the PhD.

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