PhD OFFER Radionuclide complexation with Phthalates

Who we are?

Amphos 21 is a scientific and strategic environmental consulting.
R&D has been at the heart of Amphos 21 since its creation in 1994 and currently
accounts for around a third of our activities. It includes fundamental research,
encompassing experimental and modelling approaches, the development of PhD theses
in partnership with universities, and the application of our findings to client-focused
solutions. Besides technical and scientific reports, the team publishes extensively in
highly regarded international scientific journals.

What do we need?

We are looking for a highly motivated student interested in developing an experimental
PhD thesis in the field of radionuclide thermodynamics. The overall aim of this PhD is
to execute a programme of experimental and data interpretation research dealing with
complexation of phthalate with different radionuclides in aqueous systems (particularly
at neutral to alkaline pH).

The background


As the urgency to combat the climate crisis grows, and considering recent geopolitical
events, nuclear energy has been identified as a key low carbon technology for meeting
growing global energy needs. One critical hurdle for the nuclear industry is the issue of
waste. Geological disposal in an engineered repository is the best supported solution
for nuclear waste yet remains a particularly complex challenge. Understanding the
behaviour of radionuclides in the conditions relevant for geological disposal underpins
the scientific basis for the effective isolation of nuclear waste and is the focus of this
PhD.
The use of concrete and cementitious materials for construction purposes, as backfill
material or for the solidification of waste packages affects geochemical boundary
conditions in the repository. The dissolution and chemical evolution of cement buffers
the pH to alkaline conditions. A series of literature surveys between 2017 – 2021
identified that thermodynamic data for phthalate complexation with radionuclides under
alkaline conditions (pH 8-13) were extremely scarce. A general understanding of the
behaviour of these species is then lacking. In order to cover this knowledge gap, we
propose an experimental approach including screening and detailed experiments
involving a relatively large number of elements. The main experimental approaches to
be used to obtain the desired information will be solubility, time-resolved laser
fluorescence (TRLFS) and potentiometry experiments. In addition, ab initio calculations
will provide theoretical support on the structure of the identified complexes. Depending
on the preliminary results, additional techniques as capillary electrophoresis coupled to
ICP or EXAFS may be employed to provide additional, complimentary information.
The final goal is to generate data that can be integrated into the international
thermodynamic database ThermoChimie (www.thermochimie-tdb.com). ThermoChimie
is a thermodynamic database developed by the consortium formed by Andra (French
National Radioactive Waste Management Agency), Nuclear Waste Services (formerly
Radioactive Waste Management Limited, UK) and Ondraf/Niras (National Agency for
Radioactive Waste Management, Belgium). The purpose of the database is to provide
an accurate, consistent and complete thermodynamic data set to be used in
geochemical modelling of radionuclide and non-radiological pollutant behaviour. This
can be in support of repository performance assessments, research activities (such as
modelling experiments), or decisions about waste conditioning, reprocessing, and
disposability.


What do we offer?


We offer a fully-funded PhD scholarship in the field of radionuclide thermodynamics.
The project will be hosted at Amphos 21 in Barcelona (Spain) and will include longterm
stages (1 year each) in two cutting-edge international laboratories with a wide
experience in the field: KIT-INE in Germany and CEA in France. The student work will
be directly supervised by Dr. Eli Colàs (Amphos 21) and Dr. Pascal Reiller (CEA), with
the collaboration of Dr. Xavier Gaona (KIT).
The student will receive training in working with a range of radionuclides in solubility
experiments and learn TRLFS and potentiometric techniques. The candidate will have
the opportunity to present their work at international conferences and in written
scientific publications.

Requirements


· You have a MSc in Chemistry (or related disciplines) and experience with analytical
chemistry.
· You are fluent in written and spoken English. Basic knowledge of French and/or
German is a plus.
· The position requires long-term stages (1 year each) in Germany and France; the
ability to commit to this travel is essential.
How to apply?
To apply for this opportunity, please send your resume to eli.colas@amphos21.com
and cc to david.garcia@amphos21.com and lidia.oliva@amphos21.com. Please
indicate in the subject of the email the position (PhD candidate – RN complexation with
Phthalates) that you are interested in.