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PhD Studentship - Graphite Core Dismantling for Minimising Graphite Waste Volume

The University of Manchester

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,609 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th June 2021
Closes: 31st July 2021
 

Lead Supervisor: Prof. Abbie Jones

Co-Supervisor(s): Dr. Alex Theodosiou

Description

The UK has produced nuclear energy over the past 70 years principally through the use of graphite moderated gas cooled reactors, i.e. Magnox and Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGR). Many of these are now closed and due to be decommissioned, leaving a legacy of ~100,000 tonnes of irradiated graphite material to be disposed of either in a deep geological repository or in a near-surface disposal site. In either case, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s current baseline strategy for dismantling the reactor cores includes whole brick retrieval followed by basic treatment and grouting in the specified package before transport to the disposal site.

The objective of this project is to explore a novel and accelerated dismantling and decommissioning technique called “Nibble and Vacuum” for retrieving the core graphite. Although this technique has been previously proposed for graphite, the technology development is low, and is limited to basic concept studies; in addition, Nibble and Vac has not been tried on core graphite, therefore the aims of this novel project will be to identify the optimum parameters and potential issues, either related to the engineering implementation or to the safety case. The result of this dismantling method is crushed graphite that can then be readily used for waste minimisation methods, such as bulk oxidation or Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP). Significant work has been completed on the former by UoM so this work will focus on the latter with studies on the Nibble and Vacuum methodology to enable industrial scale up with the projects partners at the National Nuclear laboratory. The research will include a feasibility study, safety case assessment and optimisation of HIP as a treatment method for irradiated graphite. If successful, HIP and subsequent leaching studies will be performed on irradiated graphite. Characterisation of the graphite and its properties will be undertaken before HIPing in order to understand this effect on the HIP process. The optimum achievable volume minimisation method will be established followed by leaching tests on the HIPed graphite to determine its efficiency as an immobilisation method.

Skills required

You must have at least an upper second-class (2:1) bachelor’s honours degree or equivalent, and you must have completed research training at Masters level by 30 September of 2021 and secured skills in relevant social sciences research methods. Masters in Science Education or Social Science is preferred.

Funding

This PhD starting in October 2021 is funded by an iCASE award through support from the EPSRC and Centre for Innovative Nuclear Decommissioning (CINDe). This is a 4-year studentship that will cover all tuition fees for the duration of the PhD and provide a tax-free stipend to cover living costs (exact amount to be confirmed but will at least £15,609 for 2021/22). The funding will also cover travel and related costs linked to the research project. Applicants should meet the eligibility criteria for UKRI-funded studentships.

Standard wording

As an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons. As the School is committed to the principles of the Race Equality Charter Mark and Athena SWAN, we would particularly welcome applications from women and the black and minority ethnic (BME) community, who are both currently under-represented at this grade. All appointments will be made on merit.

Contact for project specific enquiries

Prof. Abbie Jones (abbie.jones@manchester.ac.uk)

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