Research disciplines

The RWM RSO will build a multi-disciplinary capability across a number of UK university teams that have a world-class track record in geological disposal science and technology, fostering collaboration and synergies.

We will draw upon world-class research expertise in our key disciplines, including:


Advanced manufacturing

Image of a robot arm with its pincer open

Theme lead: Professor Steve Jones
Advanced manufacturing research is intrinsic to building sustainable waste management systems and to securing the necessary societal and environmental investments. Research involves the development of cost-effective fabrication and construction technologies, and standardisation and automation that enhances product integrity and performance.


Applied mathematics

Equations on a chalkboard

Theme lead: Professor Robert Zimmerman

Regulatory guidance requires a quantitative evaluation of the performance of the GDF during each of the transport, operational and post closure phases. The applied mathematics theme will explore the development and application of quantitative descriptions for the key features, effects and processes which impact the safety and operation of the GDF throughout its lifecycle. It will complement existing RWM expertise in mathematical modelling and the quantification and management of uncertainties.


Applied social science

Small group of students having a discussion

Theme lead: Adrian Bull
The provision of a geological disposal facility (GDF) relies on the consent of the host community. The applied social science theme will explore all social and socio-economic aspects of delivering the GDF. It will also explore how public trust and confidence can be developed and sustained, to secure the necessary community consent.


Environmental science

Lake with mountains in the background

Delivery of the GDF will require appropriate environmental permits, environmental impact assessments, habitats assessments and sustainability appraisals. Environmental science research addresses the impact of the GDF on, and incorporation of disposed waste components in, the biogeochemical cycles which operate in the sub-surface and surface environments, across all relevant length and timescales to support these assessments.


Geoscience

Illustrated image of the Earth from space

Theme lead: Professor Kevin Taylor
Geoscientific understanding is essential for building confidence in the long-term safety of the geological disposal facility (GDF) and for quantifying and managing the inevitable uncertainties that arise over the timescales associated with geological disposal. Geoscience research involves integrated aspects of rock characterisation; hydrogeology, geochemical reactivity and modelling; geophysics; geomechanics and structural geology.


Materials science

Bubbles of red and green in molten glass

Theme lead: Dr Claire Corkhill
Materials science research underpins the safety case for radioactive waste disposal. It provides the basis for understanding the long-term behaviour of wastes and engineered barrier components within the GDF, to define the GDF source term. Research includes the evolution and interaction of the engineered near field components of the GDF, during the operational phase and following the sealing and closure of the facility. It covers the wasteform, container and buffer or backfill, addressing individual and coupled thermal, hydrological, mechanical and chemical processes.


Public communication of science

Blurred image of raised hands

The siting process for a UK GDF is following a volunteer process involving working in partnership with potential host communities. To enable these communities to engage with the siting process, effective and innovative communication of research and research findings to both expert and lay stakeholders is essential. Research into effective techniques and methods for public communication of complex science and technology will underpin RWM’s communication strategy.


Radiochemistry

Image of an illustrated periodic table

Theme lead: Professor Francis Livens
Understanding the mobility of radionuclides under different conditions is an essential component of the GDF safety case. Radiochemistry research addresses the impact of chemical speciation on solubility and mobility of radionuclides and stable species, particularly on exchange between solid and fluid (solution and gas) phases through both experimental study and computational modelling.


Training

Male and female training at a computer

Theme lead: Professor Sarah Heath
The GDF programme will require a secure supply of technical training across a wide range of disciplines. The Training Lead will coordinate training activities across the RSO portfolio, and integrate them into wider nuclear skills development activities.


Our people

Discover more about the project team and discipline leads that make up our Research Support Office members.

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Our people

Discover more about the project team and discipline leads that make up our Research Support Office members.

Meet our team >

About

Discover our aims to support RWM’s important work on geological waste disposal.

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