Core Chemical Engineering Award for the University

The University, working in partnership with Sellafield Ltd, has won the Core Chemical Engineering Award at the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2011 Awards.

Researchers from the University have teamed up with Sellafield Ltd to clean up radioactive sludge produced by the UK nuclear industry.

The newly formed 'Sludge Centre of Expertise' draws on specialist knowledge from the University's engineers and environmental specialists, who are working closely with Sellafield Ltd's sludge team. 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. This information will help nuclear engineers work out how to dispose of the sludge safely and efficiently.

As with all radioactive waste, unwanted sludge has to be handled with care to ensure the safety of workers involved in the clean-up process. To address this, University of Leeds engineers are developing techniques to sample and test radioactive sludges from a distance, using remote monitoring equipment. They will be investigating the best ways to mobilise and transport the waste sludge to specialist treatment plants, where it can be made safe for long-term storage.

Professor Simon Biggs, Director of the School of Process, Environmental and Materials Engineering, said: "Liquid and semi-solid radioactive waste is a major headache. Having worked closely with the nuclear industry for over a decade, we have built up considerable knowledge of these sludges and how they behave. We are optimistic that we can help Sellafield Ltd clean up this waste from legacy facilities."

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