In situ gas analysis in interim spent fuel containers

University of Manchester

Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science

Project Description

This project is funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and in collaboration with scientists and engineers at the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). The aim is to develop methods to determine state of the spent fuel by remotely probing them with lasers. The student will also be part of the University CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) GREEN (Growing skills for reliable economic energy from nuclear) and will thus be part of a larger cohort with specific skills training.

Interim dry storage is being proposed or considered for a large part of the UK’s spent fuel inventory. The fuel will be stored for several decades pending disposal in a geological repository. At current, there are few options being considered for monitoring the spent fuel during this interim storage, and no mature monitoring technology that would avoid penetration of containment. This project will investigate the potential for a combined LIBS and Raman approach to be used to this end. The spectra and limit of detection of several gases of interest will be analysed in inert gas: • Xenon and Krypton; to assess viability for fuel cladding failure during storage. (LIBS) • Hydrogen and oxygen; to assess viability for water vapour detection during storage. (Raman) • Nitrogen/air; to assess viability for container failure during storage. (Raman) This will determine if LIBS can detect these signature gases at practicable levels for deployment of the technique in a dry storage container. The project will also assess options for integrating LIBS/Raman into storage container design, including the use of optical windows, or embedded fibre optics. These data will determine if the use of LIBS in dry storage containers can reach sufficient TRL to be considered for deployment.

Funding Information

The PhD starting in October 2021 is funded by an Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) studentship award with support from the National Nuclear Laboratory. This is a 4-year studentship that will cover all tuition fees for the duration of the PhD and provide a tax-free stipend to cover living costs (exact amount to be confirmed). The funding will cover travel and related costs linked to the research project. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for UKRI-funded studentships.

Application Process

For further information about the project or any informal enquiries, please contact Professor Philip Martin ([email protected]). Please contact the admissions team at [email protected] with any queries you may have regarding the application process or funding.

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