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Geochemical Characterization of Diffusion and Reaction across Rock-Cement Interfaces

Primary Investigators:
Professor David S. Kosson, Dr. Chen Gruber (post-doctoral)
Brief Description of Project:
Understanding the behavior of primary constituents and key trace constituents across the interface of natural rock materials and engineered materials (e.g., cements) is important for predicting long-term performance of waste disposal systems.  The particular system of interest is the interface between carbonate rocks and cements used as seals and waste forms for intermediate depth disposal of nuclear wastes.  Diffusive transport and reaction of constituents across this interface can result in changes in mineralogy, physical properties and transport rates of radionuclides.  On-going experiments have been examining 12 interface scenarios.  Solid phase characterization involves using advanced analytical (e.g., electron microscopy, laser ablation-mass spectrometry) and modeling (geochemical speciation reactive transport) techniques to identify physical and chemical changes and evolution of gradients.  The specific objective for the summer research project will be to use a suite of techniques to understand the changes that have occurred after 6 months of accelerated aging across selected cement-rock interfaces.

Desired Qualifications:
Rising Junior or Senior in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Earth and Environmental Sciences or Chemistry. Strong interest in geochemistry and material science. Prior chemistry-based lab experience preferred. Strong interest in wet-chemistry based sample preparation (fine cutting, polishing, epoxy mounting) and instrument-based (scanning electron microscopy, laser ablation mass spectroscopy) solid phase characterization.
Nature of Supervision:
Daily interaction with Post-doc and laboratory staff. Routine (multiple times per week) interaction with faculty member.  Extensive laboratory training will occur.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Week 1-2: Methods and project familiarization; training on basic lab procedures and safety
Weeks 2-4: Preliminary trials of sample preparation and characterization
Weeks 5-10: Further characterization methods development and data analysis 

Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: David Kosson
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering