Hallam PhD students driving improvements in nuclear waste disposal

Three Sheffield Hallam University PhD students have begun working with the United States’ Department of Energy on a project to help with the clean-up of a US nuclear plant undergoing decommissioning.

The project will involve looking at how harmful nuclear waste at the Hanford site in Washington State can be safely disposed of by turning it into glass.

Students Katrina Love, Jessica Rigby and James Eales will each focus on one particular area of research, working together to develop potential solutions which could be developed by the US State Department.

The three-year project is match-funded by the US Department of Energy, with the students based in Sheffield Hallam’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) with site visits to Hanford and other US partner organisations.

Hanford is one of the most heavily polluted sites in the world, with the plant, which was fully closed in 1987, being the home to nuclear testing since 1943. Now, the team from MERI, alongside colleagues at Washington State University, Rutgers University (New Jersey), and US National Laboratories at Savannah River, Pacific Northwest and Idaho, will be working with the US Department of Energy to help develop a system to turn the liquid waste still on the site into glass, which can be safely disposed of underground.

Paul Bingham, professor of ceramics and glasses, will be supervising the students during the project. He said: “Working with the US Department of Energy, as well as other international universities, highlights the level of influence and reputation enjoyed by Sheffield Hallam.”

“The research undertaken by the students will potentially lead to revolutionary solutions to a real world problem which is having a detrimental impact on the environment. The experience to be gained from working on an international project with partners overseas is invaluable. As an institution, we engage globally through partnerships and academic opportunities, linking Sheffield to the world and the world to Sheffield.”

Student Katrina, added: “We’re looking forward to working together, along with colleagues from other universities and the Department of Energy, in tackling this situation and hopefully developing innovative solutions. The project has only just started, but we are already excited by how it is progressing.”

Sheffield Hallam University is a national leader in creating innovative and real-world solutions for tackling today’s health and wellbeing challenges and its practitioners, scientists, engineers and designers regularly collaborate to create innovative solutions that will drive economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.


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