This project will investigate the crystallinity and crystallography of calcite which has precipitated during sequestration of atmospheric CO2 by steel slag.
Steel slag is the waste product from steel manufacturing. It is usually dumped in heaps open to the atmosphere. Similar to ultramafic rocks, steel slag is dominated by minerals with divalent metals cations and is highly reactive. This results in carbonation of the slag – the divalent metal cations in the slag minerals react with atmospheric carbon dioxide and precipitate carbonate minerals such as calcite on the surface of the slag pieces or in the pore spaces. As this chemical reaction captures CO2 from the atmosphere, it has attracted attention as a possible method for sequestering atmospheric CO2 and therefore potentially mitigate the effects of climate change.
Samples of carbonated steel slag will be collected and cut into polished blocks and polished thin sections. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis will be conducted to determine the crystallinity of the precipitated calcite, and to quantify the crystal size, shape and structure as well as any crystallographic orientation relationships with other minerals within the slag. The EBSD data will then be compared with μCT analysis and crystallographic modelling to investigate the way the calcite crystals have grown through the reaction between the slag and atmospheric CO2.
The student should have a geoscience or chemistry background with a strong interest in climate change and its mitigation. Laboratory experience is desirable - particularly use of SEM - and a willingness to learn new techniques in a laboratory environment is vital. A competent ability in scientific writing, gained through an undergraduate mapping or research project, is expected.
This MSc by Research project will give the student experience in advanced SEM techniques and familiarity with industrial residues and the opportunities they present. These skills will equip them for further research through a PhD or a career in a discipline relevant to climate change.
A strong 2:1 (or ideally 1st class) BSc (Hons) or MSci in a related subject is required and an MSc in a relevant discipline is desirable. Relevant disciplines include geoscience, environmental science and environmental chemistry, or similar. For more information on this or similar positions, please contact Dr John MacDonald ([email protected]).