PhD position at the University of Glasgow

PhD position at the University of Glasgow on “Modelling of geo-engineered barriers for underground nuclear waste storage”

This project will take place at the School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow in the UK and will be jointly supervised by Dr Domenico Gallipoli and Dr Peter Grassl. The project will develop the simulation tools for predicting the long-term behaviour of geo-engineered barriers used in the geological (underground) storage of nuclear waste. A typical geological storage scheme for nuclear waste consists of a cylindrical steel canister (containing the waste) sealed by an annular buffer of bentonite blocks placed inside a rock tunnel at significant depth. The geo-engineered barrier formed by the bentonite blocks is subjected to thermal, hydraulic and mechanical actions which strongly influence the overall performance of the disposal scheme. A good understanding of the response of the bentonite barrier is therefore essential for predicting with confidence the evolution of the storage scheme over a very large time scale and, hence, to ensure a safe disposal of nuclear waste.

Interfaces between bentonite blocks significantly influence fluid transport across the barrier, however the presence of these joints has not received adequate attention so far and the buffer layer is still commonly modelled as a uniform continuum. In this project, new numerical techniques will be developed to model mass transport along and across interfaces between bentonite blocks. This will include the development of novel constitutive models to describe mechanical loading, heat transfer and moisture transport inside the bentonite blocks as well as along the interfaces. These numerical tools will allow a detailed analysis of the heterogeneous movement of gas and water in the discontinuous bentonite buffer. This project will provide the opportunity to work on cutting edge research in a dynamic environment and to gain in-depth training in the area of computational mechanics.

The successful candidate will have a very good MSc or undergraduate degree in Engineering or other relevant subject. He/she should have: a) a predisposition for analytical thinking, b) a familiarity with mathematical tools and c) an ability to learn software programming (prior experience in this respect is an advantage). The ideal candidate should also be enthusiastic and self-motivated with good organisational and interpersonal skills. He/she should show initiative, taking ownership of the research and contributing to the leadership of the project. The PhD studentship, which covers the full cost of tuition fees and provide a tax-free stipend of about £13,000 per year for three and a half years, is available to applicants from the European Union. Applicants from outside the European Union can also apply but they will have to prove that they possess the necessary resources to cover the difference between the EU and overseas rate of tuition fees (about £10,000 per year).

In order to apply for this PhD position please contact either Dr Domenico Gallipoli ( or Dr Peter Grassl ( attaching your CV and full transcript of marks at undergraduate/postgraduate level.

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