Investigating Actinide Oxide Reactivity in Waste

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Sellafield in the UK represents one of the most complex and challenging nuclear waste sites in the world. Work has just begun on repackaging some of stored plutonium waste for processing. However, there have been some significant changes to the conditions within some of the cannisters from when they were originally sealed, which has thrown up some issues that have thus far proved difficult to resolve. These issues revolve around the interaction of plutonium oxide powder with water and potential evolution of hydrogen (or lack of) over time. A deeper understanding of the plutonium oxide reactivity, and more generally, actinide oxides, and their ability to affect the local gaseous environment, is clearly important in order to inform future decisions about actinide waste treatment at Sellafield.
The proposed PhD project will synthesise films and bulk powders of actinide oxides, specifically ThO2 and UO2 at Bristol. The student will utilise the radioactive handling and preparation laboratories and dedicated actinide deposition system, unique in the UK. Characterisation will be conducted using a range of surface analysis techniques, with particular emphasis on utilising x-ray diffraction (XRD) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023844/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2462334 Studentship EP/S023844/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Florence Legg