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The impact of microbial metabolism on cement properties during radioactive waste disposal

   EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy - GREEN

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  Prof J Lloyd  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project will primarily be based at: The University of Manchester


The UK nuclear fuel cycle has generated large quantities of higher-activity radioactive waste, and UK policy is that such waste will be disposed of in a Geological Disposal Facility. The MAGIC consortium is a new EU funded project that aims to understand the long-term performance of cement materials that could be used for structural and isolation purposes in a GDF. This project focuses on the colonization of cement by alkaliphilic microorganisms and their impact on the structural properties of the material during GDF operational and post-closure periods. Microbial degradation of cementitious materials has been demonstrated in other technical disciplines (for example in sewage pipes, marine structures and wastewater treatment systems), normally associated with the microbial production of acids. However, microbial-induced calcite precipitation is also possible, and has even been used for the protection of cement surfaces, and for crack remediation. Note that the choice of materials to be used in a GDF will be informed by requirements.

Joining a vibrant group of 40+ cross-disciplinary researchers, the successful applicant will assess the beneficial and deleterious impacts of microbial metabolism on the structure and properties of GDF cement formulations using high pH microbial inocula. A cross-disciplinary approach will be applied to quantify microbial colonisation of low pH cement and identify the extent and impact of microbial metabolism. This will include cutting-edge microbial analyses and the parallel application of 3D X-ray CT and 2D-3D image correlation techniques to monitor in situ changes. The researcher will also generate data for modelling by other MAGIC partners e.g. the impact on microbial processes on local swelling or other changes in microstructure, and the impacts of these processes on material properties. Finally, the applicant will benefit from close collaborations with UK and EU partners, including RWM, and have access to unique state of the art laboratory infrastructure in nuclear environmental research and materials science (e.g. the new £4M NNUF facility)


The GREEN Centre for Doctoral Training (GREEN CDT) is a consortium of five universities: The University of Manchester, Lancaster University, The University of Leeds, The University of Liverpool and The University of Sheffield, which aims to train the next generation of expert nuclear scientists and engineers.

The four-year PhD programme invites students to attend taught courses (Year 1) in various subjects of nuclear technology followed by subject specific training (Year 1), then progress to the PhD-level research activities described in the 'Summary' (Year 2-Year 4).