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Understanding the effects of natural SCMs in cementitious grouts designed for the safe disposal of nuclear wastes

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy - GREEN

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
Manchester United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Geochemistry Materials Science

About the Project

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


Nuclear waste cementation is one of the UK strategies for the safe disposal of intermediate and low-level nuclear waste. These processes rely on the availability of Portland cement, along with cement replacements referred to as supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) (e.g. blast furnace slag (BFS) from the iron making industry, or pulverised fly ash (PFA) from coal combustion); however, long-term availability of traditional SCMs is threatened by changes in these industries e.g. closure of coal-fired power stations in the UK. This project aims to develop a new generation of engineered UK-based SCMs and understand their effects on the performance of bespoke cementitious grouts designed for the safe disposal of legacy and future UK nuclear waste.

These new SCMs will be produced from low cost, locally available natural resources (e.g. clays), which will promote eco-efficiency and self-sufficiency of the UK nuclear waste disposal sector. Specific objectives are to develop a database of UK clay stockpiles, mineral chemistry and potential reactivity; understanding the effect of material processing and/ or calcination regime on pozzolanic activity of low-grade clays and their performance in blended cementitious systems; and elucidating the effect of UK calcined clays on microstructure, mechanical and transport properties of blended cementitious grouts.

The successful applicant will work in the UKCRIC Centre for Infrastructure Materials at the University of Leeds. The student will have access to brand new laboratories for the development, characterisation and performance assessment of cementitious materials, including access to our own spectroscopy and microscopy facilities including X-ray microtomography instrument


The GREEN Centre for Doctoral Training (GREEN CDT) is a 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.

Students within the GREEN CDT are invited to undertake a four-year PhD programme. Students will attend taught courses (Year 1) in various subject of nuclear technology followed by subject specific training (Year 1) leading to research activities (Year 2-Year 4).

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