The University of Leeds, working in partnership with Sellafield Ltd, has won the Core Chemical Engineering Award at the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2011 Awards.
The Core Chemical Engineering Award recognises projects or processes that best demonstrate a chemical engineering solution to improve resource efficiency, lifetime value and/or process optimisation. The award was presented by Anthony Fairhurst of Simon Carves Engineering, and Hugh Dennis, who hosted the awards.
The team of engineers and environmental specialists from the University worked with colleagues from Sellafield Ltd and the BHR Group. The winning project used innovative techniques to increase our understanding of processes taking place within radioactive waste storage tanks which contain high-concentration sediment beds. These tanks use specialist mixers to remobilise sediment.
Managing radioactive waste efficiently and safely requires a detailed knowledge of how material is remobilised and transported within the tanks. These processes include fracturing of the sediment beds, sediment erosion, multiphase sediment transport, and particle deposition. Because these processes take place inside closed vessels and within the sediment mass it is difficult to monitor them. However, the Leeds team used a variety of new approaches to address this problem, including CT scanning to examine fracture mechanics, and physical modelling of sediment erosion dynamics.
This work is part of the University of Leeds - Sellafield Sludge Centre of Expertise which aims to clean up radioactive sludge produced by the UK nuclear industry. The Centre will play a key role in describing the behaviour of the sludge wastes that have arisen after years of operation at Sellafield and other nuclear sites across the UK, and will help nuclear engineers work out how to dispose of the sludge safely and efficiently.
The Leeds team was led by Dr Jeff Peakall from Earth and Environment, Professor Simon Biggs and Dr Simon Lawson from ParticlesCIC (Centre for Industrial Collaboration) in the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering. The team also included Gareth Keevil and Russell Dixon from the Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Carlos Grattoni and Phil Guise from University spin-out company RDR Ltd, and Susanne Patel from ParticlesCIC.
Image (left to right): Hugh Dennis (Presenter/Comedian), Dr Jeff Peakall (University of Leeds), Cliff Birchall (Sellafield Ltd), Dr Nigel Heywood (BHR Group) and Anthony Fairhurst (Simon Carves).
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