Impact of microbial biofilms on the performance of materials relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle

Lead Research Organisation: University of Huddersfield
Department Name: Biological Sciences


This project will build on the work of the C14-BIC project and associated research on biofilms and alkaliphilic microorganisms and extend it to biofilm formation on a range of other materials such as concrete and cements relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle and radioactive waste disposal. These materials are important since they are common construction materials and are extensively used in the immobilisation of radioactive wastes. More specifically, the ability of biofilms to modify surface chemistries, retard the release of contaminants and survive in microsites and cracks within these materials, will be the main focus of the project.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N50967X/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1972034 Studentship EP/N50967X/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2019 Kim Alexandra Patel
Description Direct evidence of degradation of complexants associated with low-level radioactive waste due to microbial biofilms, leading to the retardation of radioelements (nickel) at alkaline pH. Column work on thorium has indicated that CDP is unable to complex the Th ion sufficiently to overcome sorption to the sand matrix. Further work on Uranium has indicated that sorption is not an issue, however reduction of U(VI) to U(IV) may be relevant.
Exploitation Route Continuing these experiments using other naturally occurring radioactive elements and investigating their adsorption in the presence of complexants and subsequently the affects that microbial biofilms have on them will increase our understanding of these processes. this data will also allow the modelling of radionuclide transport to incorporate the impact of microbial processes.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Title Introduction of radioactive material 
Description We have introduced the use of radioactive material at the University of Huddersfield by using flow-through experimentation to investigate the adsorption and complexation of naturally occuring radioelements in the presence of microbial biofilms. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N/A