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Research Associate in Nuclear Fuel Corrosion

University of Sheffield

Sheffield, United Kingdom

Join the UK’s leading nuclear waste research team! We have an exciting opportunity in the NucleUS Immobilisation Science Laboratory, in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The University of Sheffield, for someone with a passion for material/mineral corrosion, looking to use their skills in surface and solution analytical chemistry to make an impact on the long term storage and geological disposal of nuclear waste.

We are seeking a post-doctoral researcher (or a PhD student close to completion of their PhD) with a PhD in chemistry, physics, materials science, geoscience or similar discipline to develop and implement a research program to investigate the
dissolution mechanisms and kinetics of model UO2 SIMFUEL materials as a function of alpha self-irradiation, and in the presence of near-field materials (fuel cladding, corroded container materials). You will have technical experience in material characterisation techniques, aqueous analytical methods and some knowledge of working with radioactive materials. Knowledge and technical experience of performing synchrotron-based X-ray experiments would be beneficial.

This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the scientific underpinning of spent nuclear fuel management in the UK and the USA; the project is funded under a joint US / UK programme (NEUP), sponsored by EPSRC (UK) and the US Department of Energy (US). It will be undertaken in collaboration with leading research organisations in the USA (Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and the UK Government organisation responsible for spent fuel management (Radioactive Waste Management Limited). You will be expected to travel to the USA (Washington State) for meetings and some short (ca. 2 week) research exchanges.

You will join a vibrant research team with a world-leading reputation for nuclear waste management research. Our research team is the largest in the UK working on nuclear waste and supports nine academic staff, 16 research associates and 45 PhD
students. With a grant portfolio of > £15M, we collaborate strongly with research end-users in industry and implementation authorities. For more information, please follow @ISL_Sheffield on Twitter. You will report to Dr. Claire Corkhill, who leads a sub-group of the NucleUS Laboratory, focussed on the dissolution behaviour of spent fuel, vitrified waste and cement materials. This group (2 PDRAs and 7 PhDs) will benefit from your support, for example through supervision of PhD and
undergraduate project students, and through participation in public engagement activities on nuclear waste geological disposal.

Main Duties and Responsibilities
• Develop and implement a programme of work to ascertain the mechanisms and kinetics of model UO2 SIMFUEL dissolution in the presence of near-field materials, for example by using geochemical or electrochemical approaches.
• Undertake selected synthesis and characterisation of UO2 SIMFUEL doped with 233U.
• Design and implement a dissolution programme to characterise the effect of alpha radiolysis on model UO2 SIMFUEL in relevant storage and disposal scenarios.
• Develop and implement a characterisation programme to quantify the extent of UO2 dissolution, and the formation of secondary precipitates, in the presence of near-field materials and alpha-radiolysis.
• Travel to project partners in the USA to undertake/discuss research.
• Prepare and submit proposals for access to large scale facilities for the purpose of synchrotron radiation (for example Diamond Light Source) or neutron facilities (for example ISIS).
• Publish research results in good quality journals and contribute to the publication output of the research group.
• Assist with administrative tasks in the project and with student supervision and training.
• Plan for specific activities of the research project as agreed with supervisor.
• Coordinate and liaise with other members of the research group and collaborators over work progress.
• Plan and manage dissemination of project results.
• Assist the investigator in managing grant(s) finances.
• Initiate necessary materials/equipment purchase requisition.
• Any other duties, commensurate with the grade of the post.


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