PhD student position in Corrosion of reactive metals under repository conditions

Nuclear energy is a versatile and flexible low-carbon energy source, which can provide an important contribution to the transition toward a decarbonized economy. Closing the nuclear fuel cycle will be the key factor to a sustainable use of nuclear systems for power production.

Project description
The corrosion rates of metals and alloys considered for disposal in the future Swedish deep repository for long lived low and intermediate level waste, SFL, are important in the safety assessment of the repository for two major reasons. Firstly, they affect the rate at which radionuclides associated with the metal, including activation products, are released from the repository. Secondly, the anoxic corrosion of metals and alloys may generate hydrogen gas, which can negatively affect the safety case of the repository. Gas generation can potentially result in channels forming in materials such as bentonite clay barriers if the gas generation rates are too high.

The project will focus on characterizing corrosion mechanisms, identifying corrosion products and determining corrosion rates for materials of importance for the safety assessment and for which there is a lack of existing data under repository relevant conditions. The influence of key chemical and physical variables in the repository environment on corrosion will be an integral part of the project. Materials of interest include metallic thorium and aluminum alloys, as well as other potentially reactive materials that are destined for disposal in SFL.
The work will focus on physico-chemical conditions relevant for the planned legacy waste disposal gallery, which is expected to have bentonite clay as its main engineered barrier, in addition to cementitious materials (i.e cement water conditions). The scope of work is however also relevant to the SFL reactor core internals disposal gallery, which is planned to have concrete barriers.

Experimental techniques may include autoclave corrosion studies under anoxic conditions with analysis of evolved hydrogen. Surface area measurements by BET, X-ray diffraction, various spectroscopic techniques, microscopy, weight change and methods of oxide removal. The work will primarily be performed on natural un-irradiated reference samples. At a later stage experiments on irradiated components may also be included.

The expected outcome of the project are new data on corrosion and hydrogen generation rates for primarily metallic thorium and aluminum alloys under deep disposal conditions. The results are expected to aid in disposal safety assessments and in deciding the need for conditioning of the materials prior to disposal. The work may thus also involve studies on high temperature oxidation of the materials as a means of pre disposal conditioning.

Information about the division and the department
The project is funded by AB SVAFO, the Swedish legacy waste management company in collaboration with the Swedish nuclear waste management company SKB. The work will mainly be performed in the laboratory of Nuclear Chemistry & Industrial Materials Recycling at Chalmers University, Gothenburg and potentially to a lesser extent at the facilities of SVAFO in Studsvik outside Nyköping Sweden.

Major responsibilities
Your major responsibilities as a PhD student is to pursue your own doctoral studies. You are expected to develop your own scientific concepts and communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing, both in Swedish and in English. In addition, the position will normally include 20Ţpartmental work, mostly teaching duties. You are expected to write a licentiate thesis within 2-3 years and defend your doctoral thesis within 4-5 years.

To qualify for this position, you must have a master's level degree corresponding to at least 240 higher education (ECTS) credits in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Environmental science, Environmental Engineering, Engineering Physics or equivalent. Excellent writing and communication skills in English is required. Fluency/knowledge of a Nordic language and experience in the field of nuclear science is meritorious.

Please observe: Since the department is also a nuclear facility, only citizens of the countries who are signatory of Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons can apply and be considered for the position. Please check the status of your country before applying.

Contract terms
Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five years.

We offer
Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the coastal city of Gothenburg. 
Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Chalmers aims to actively improve our gender balance. We work broadly with equality projects, for example the GENIE Initiative on gender equality for excellence. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Application procedure
The application should be marked with Ref 20220681 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as PDF-files, as below. Maximum size for each file is 40 MB. Please note that the system does not support Zip files.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)
• CV
• Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.
• Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)
1-3 pages where you:
• Introduce yourself
• Describe your previous experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities)
• Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents:
• Copies of bachelor and/or master’s thesis.
• Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form. 

Application deadline: 31-01-2023

For questions, please contact:
Teodora Retegan Vollmer, Nuclear Chemistry and Industrial Materials Recycling
Phone: +46317722881

Christian Ekberg, Nuclear Chemistry and Industrial Materials Recycling
Phone: +46317722801

Anders Puranen, Svafo/Nuclear Chemistry and Industrial Materials Recycling
Phone: +46702893257

*** Chalmers declines to consider all offers of further announcement publishing or other types of support for the recruiting process in connection with this position. *** 

Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and education in engineering sciences, architecture, technology-related mathematical sciences, natural and nautical sciences, working in close collaboration with industry and society. The strategy for scientific excellence focuses on our six Areas of Advance; Energy, Health Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, Materials Science, Production and Transport. The aim is to make an active contribution to a sustainable future using the basic sciences as a foundation and innovation and entrepreneurship as the central driving forces. Chalmers has around 11,000 students and 3,000 employees. New knowledge and improved technology have characterised Chalmers since its foundation in 1829, completely in accordance with the will of William Chalmers and his motto: Avancez!


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