Computational modelling of geo-engineered barriers of underground nuclear waste storage
Supervisors: Dr. Peter Grassl and Prof. Simon Wheeler
The aim of the project is to develop computational simulation tools for predicting the long-term behaviour of geo-engineered barriers used in the geological (underground) storage of nuclear waste. A typical geological storage scheme for nuclear waste consists of a cylindrical steel canister (containing the waste) sealed by an annular buffer of bentonite blocks placed inside a rock tunnel at significant depth. The geo-engineered barrier formed by the bentonite blocks is subjected to thermal, hydraulic and mechanical actions, which strongly influence the overall performance of the disposal scheme. A good understanding of the response of the bentonite barrier is therefore essential for predicting with confidence the evolution of the storage scheme over a very large time scale and, hence, to ensure a safe disposal of nuclear waste. Interfaces between bentonite blocks may significantly influence fluid transport across the barrier. However, the presence of these joints has not received adequate attention so far and the buffer layer is still commonly modelled as a uniform continuum.
In this project, new numerical techniques based on discrete lattice models will be developed to model the mass transport along and across the interfaces between the bentonite blocks. These numerical tools will allow a detailed analysis of the heterogeneous movement of gas and water in the discontinuous bentonite buffer. The constitutive response of the bentonite subjected to thermal, mechanical and hydraulic actions will be determined by computational micro-mechanics.
This project will take place at the School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow in the UK. The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr. Peter Grassl and Prof. Simon Wheeler and will be given the opportunity to work in a dynamic research environment. He/she will gain in-depth training in the area of computational mechanics. The successful candidate will have a very good MSc or undergraduate degree in Engineering or other relevant subject. He/she should have: a) a predisposition for analytical thinking, b) a familiarity with mathematical tools and c) an ability to learn software programming (prior experience in this respect is an advantage). The ideal candidate should also be enthusiastic and self-motivated with good organisational and interpersonal skills. He/she should show initiative, taking ownership of the research and contributing to the leadership of the project.
In order to apply for this PhD position please contact Peter Grassl at [Email Address Removed] attaching your CV and full transcript of marks at undergraduate/postgraduate level.
Closing date for applications is 30 September 2012.
The PhD studentship, which covers the full cost of tuition fees and provide a tax-free stipend of about £13,590 per year for three and a half years, is available to applicants from the European Union. Applicants from outside the European Union can also apply but they will have to prove that they possess the necessary resources to cover the difference between the EU and overseas rate of tuition fees (£11,922 per year).