PhD student Decommissioning and waste management for NORM practices: studying the influence of the heterogeneity on the processing and use of (waste) residues

Updated: about 6 hours ago
Deadline: 21 May 2021
The Faculty of Engineering Technology, research institute Research Institute: Centre for Environmental Sciences, research group Nuclear Technology Centre of Hasselt University seeks a (m/f/x)

PhD student Decommissioning and waste management for NORM practices: studying the influence of the heterogeneity on the processing and use of (waste) residues
HEI (higher education institution)-UHasselt and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission are inviting applications for PhD positions through the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme in the research line “Nuclear Waste Management and Decommissioning”.
The CDP scheme intends to enhance the science-policy link through strategic collaborations with higher education institutions characterized by research excellence and international reputation, in order to:
  • train a new generation of doctoral graduates in science and technology with a focus on the science-policy interface, able to understand the research needs at different stages of the policy cycle, capable of providing scientific support to policy and of using transferable skills in science communication and knowledge management;
  • co-develop, co-host and co-supervise doctoral studies between higher education institutions and the JRC;
  • strengthen collaboration between the JRC and higher education institutions by promoting mutual enhancement of related skills and competences, combining existing knowledge and capacities, and enhancing networking in key scientific areas.
Job content
Within the CDP framework we are looking for a PhD candidate to undertake a PhD focused on:
A. Decommissioning and waste management for NORM (‘naturally occurring radioactive materials’) related practices. During the PhD research two case studies are investigated:
(1)    Reuse and management of residues from a phosphogypsum landfill. In particular, considering reuse options as construction  material;
The reuse options of phosphogypsum in construction materials will be evaluated from a radiological point of view considering the heterogeneity of the materials. It will also involve the use as new types of cementitious binders (in particular: ettringite binders and alkali activated materials). A focus is on the assessment of the radiological impact of the considered practices on the workers, public and the environment.
(2)    Decommissioning and waste management for a geothermal energy plant. The heterogeneity in the NORM content of residues (e.g. scales, metallic scrap) produced during geothermal energy production and its radiological impact on workers, the public and the environment will be assessed.
In both cases the impact of the temporal and spatial heterogeneity of the NORM (waste) residues and its impact on management and reuse options is investigated.
 B. The improvement of metrology for the characterisation of naturally occurring radionuclides via gamma-ray spectrometry and in particular, the methology for difficult to measure radionuclides (those with low gamma-ray energies and/or low emission rates) in the investigated materials. This includes (i) measurements aiming at improving decay data and (ii) improving the efficiency transfer method in gamma-ray spectrometry and (iii) related quality control measures such as verifications and validations. Next to gamma-ray spectroscopy, matrix related properties (porosity, permeability, tortuosity…) that influence radon exhalation/emanation will be investigated.
C. The study also involves a techno-economic assessment of considered reuse and management options. Aspects of science/risk communication and stakeholder involvement are included that involves close collaboration in the H2020 RadoNORM project.
  • You obtained a master in (bio)Engineering, Engineering Technology (preferentially specialization in nuclear technology or comparable)or Master in Science (Physics, Chemistry, Material Sciences, Geosciences, or equivalent). (or equivalent)
    Final-year students are (likewise) encouraged to apply.
  • You work proactively and independently and have good communication skills.
  • You have a very good knowledge of English, both spoken and written.
  • You are highly motivated, ambitious and result-oriented.
  • Experience with physical and chemical characterization techniques and alkali activation materials is a major asset.
  • Relevant publications in peer review journals should be highlighted.
  • You have the nationality of a Member State of the EU or a country associated to the Research Framework Programs (Horizon2020; Associated countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, UK and Turkey).
  • You are interested in the techno-economic and sociological aspects of the research and ready to engage stakeholders and deal with science/risk communication.
  • You have a strong interest in nuclear sciences & technology and nuclear waste management and decommissioning in particular.
You will be appointed and paid as PhD student .
We offer a 4-year PhD position in collaboration with the JRC of the European Commission. The selected candidates will be evaluated after a first period of 2 years, to be admitted to the last period of 2 years. Part of the PhD research (up to 3 years) will be realized at the JRC in Geel, Belgium. The PhD candidate will be funded through consecutively a 12 month PhD fellowship at HEI UHasselt (Belgium) and up to 36 month employment contract as Grantholder Category 20 at the Joint Research Centre in Geel.
Selection procedure
You can only apply online up to and including 21 May 2021.
The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.
All interested applicants are invited to submit an application package including but not limited to: motivation letter, CV and as short research proposal (1 to 2 pages)/presentation based on the position description. Also an excerpt of criminal/judicial record is required to be uploaded in the application. All on-line data including uploads provided by the candidate will be shared with JRC. A preselection is conducted first based on the application package and further followed by two selection rounds of interviews with a limited amount of candidates for final selection. Please be advised that applications without research proposal are not considered for further evaluation.
Further information
Prof. dr. Wouter SCHROEYERS, +32-11-292157,
Prof. dr. Sonja SCHREURS, +32-11-292156,
dr. Mikael HULT, +32-14571269,
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