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An Integrated Simulation Framework for Radionuclide Transport in Waste Repository Systems

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Gomes
    Dr Y Tanino
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

The major technological challenge for current and future generations of nuclear power plants is the efficient disposal and management of high- and intermediate-level nuclear waste (H/ILW), which must be isolated from the biosphere. Deep and stable geological formations have been considered as a viable option for permanent disposal of nuclear waste.

The goal of geological disposal is to ensure that radioactive waste produced from reprocessing and spent fuel are contained in the dual engineered repository (i.e., canisters and backfill rock matrix) and host-rock. In the canisters, water is vaporised by the decay-heat from H/ILW producing steam micro-bubbles and radiolytic gases that build up the internal pressure. If the pressure exceeds the canisters’ structural limits, radionuclides can leak and flow through the backfill matrix (low permeability) and unconsolidated-consolidated host rock and, eventually reach an aquifer.

This project aims to develop a mult-iscale and multi-physics computational framework that enables modelling and simulation of radionuclides transport through backfill and host rock matrices during a postulated accident scenario, i.e., from damaged canister to the aquifer. This will involve development of 3-D fully coupled porous media models of advection, diffusion, dispersion and rock-matrix diffusion of dissolved radioactive species. Fluids are assumed to comprise of two phases (liquid water, micro-bubbles of steam and radiolytic gases) and an arbitrary number of radionuclide species. The resulting model can help site operators and regulators to predict radionuclide migration in geological formations and to plan emergency responses for leakages.

Applicants must hold, or expect to receive, a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in mathematical, computing or physical sciences discipline or relevant engineering field (nuclear, chemical, mechanical or civil). Expertise in fluid mechanics and strong programming (Python and Fortran or C) skills are essential. Background in computational fluid dynamics is desirable.

Applicants must hold, or expect to receive, a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in computing, mathematical, physical sciences or engineering. Expertise in

• Python and Fortran or C;
• Numerical methods;
• Fluid mechanics.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


1. J. Gomes et al. (2011) ‘Coupled Neutronics-Fluids Modelling of Criticality withi a MOX Powder System’, Progress in Nuclear Energy 53:523-552;
2. A. Buchan et al. (2012) ‘Simulated Transient Dynamics and Heat Transfer Characteristics of the Water Boiler Nuclear Reactor – SUPO – with Cooling Coil Heat Extraction’, Annals of Nuclear Energy 48:68-83;
3. Y. Almen et al. (2012) ‘SKB Technology Transfer: Identification and Quantification of Potential Benefits’, SKB International Report 157;
4. C. Pain et al (2010) ‘Undertanding Criticality Under Repository Conditions: Modelling of Energetic Transients Due to Slow Accumulation of Plutonium in Homogeneous Matrices’, ICON Report to NDA.

Application Process:

Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr J Gomes, ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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