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Research Fellows Directory

Nora de Leeuw

Professor Nora de Leeuw

Research Fellow


Cardiff University

Research summary

Nuclear power is an attractive alternative energy source to conventional fossil fuels, which is “clean” in that it does not produce greenhouse gases. However, concerns remain about the long-term waste storage, as spent nuclear fuel remains radio-active for a long time and the decay of the unstable radio-active elements into more stable atoms releases large amounts of energy. This damages the storage material and may lead to leaching of the radio-active material into the environment. Only materials that can withstand extreme temperatures and

pressures and can also either repair or contain any damaged regions will be suitable for the encapsulation of nuclear waste. Research is therefore required to identify and develop or improve materials that can safely store nuclear waste for hundreds of years without failure.

One of the major problems of research into nuclear materials is the risk of handling radio-active materials and as a result we lack detailed information on the

damage caused in the lattice by the decay events. Here, computer modelling can play a major role. The increase in computational power over the last decades,

coupled with the development of highly sophisticated computational techniques, means that we can now carry out accurate and realistic experiments in the computer that would not be possible and/or safe in the laboratory.

My scientific background is the computational research of structures and properties of complex materials, including bioactive materials for tissue

replacement, catalysts for CO2 conversion to fuels and chemicals and materials for nuclear energy applications. This project will provide fundamental knowledge

leading to the development of stronger, tougher and longer-lasting storage materials for nuclear waste, hence making nuclear power the kind of clean and

environmentally acceptable source of energy that we need.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Modelling radiation effects in complex materials for nuclear energy applications

Scheme: Industry Fellowship

Dates: Jul 2012 - Jun 2016

Value: £160,246

Modelling the Structures and Properties of Complex Material Interfaces

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Dates: Jul 2009 - Jul 2012

Value: £87,500

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