PhD student wins award for uranium research
13 June 2013
Camilla Stitt, a PhD student from the Interface Analysis Centre, has been awarded the 2013 43èmes Journées des Actinides Research medal for her research in the field of actinide physics and chemistry.
Camilla’s research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), concerns the corrosion of Magnox and uranium in intermediate-level nuclear waste. Recently she has been studying the chemical reactions that are occurring in nuclear waste environments, as opposed to laboratory conditions. Her presentation demonstrated that the rate at which uranium hydride precipitates may be significantly faster in the nuclear waste environment than in laboratory experiments. This probably arises from the difference between the geometry of prepared samples (flat and smooth) and that of fuel in a typical nuclear waste environment (rough and irregular), the latter of which encourages greater accumulation of hydrogen, and therefore faster precipitation of the hydride.
Camilla is also conducting uranium encapsulation experiments in conjunction with Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron facility. The work uses X-ray tomography and X-ray diffraction to examine the corrosion products and morphology of batches of uranium encapsulated in cement which have been exposed to different environments. These experiments are designed to yield the first insights into the reactions occurring in current nuclear waste and are therefore of great importance to project stakeholders such as Sellafield Ltd and the NDA.