University of Sheffield

Country: United Kingdom
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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 2598011
    Partners: University of Sheffield

    Deep Borehole Disposal (DBD), a potentially transformative disposal concept largely pioneered at the University of Sheffield, has gained global attention as a potentially safer, more secure and cost-effective solution to the disposal of HLW and spent fuel. In DBD, the waste containers are stacked vertically within the waste deployment zone of the borehole (lowest 1-2 km). It is important when considering the post-operational safety case to ensure that the containers (and any overpacks) are able to withstand both the vertical load stresses and a large hydrostatic pressure without compromising the mechanical integrity of the packages. The PhD student would focus on the stress analysis for the canister design where the aim is to guide the thickness of the canisters or overpack walls such that they withstand the downhole pressure and the load of containers in a vertical columned stack. The finite element method (FEM) will primarily be used. Detailed nonlinear models will be developed to achieve an eventual series of nuclear waste filled canisters while at the same time considering the interaction of the surrounding environment (e.g. soil/rocks). This approach would then be implemented into a tailored software package for this application that would allow engineers to quickly and easily find the minimum thickness and number of canisters for a given disposal scenario (waste type, hole diameter, etc).

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/F012330/1
    Funder Contribution: 60,854 GBP
    Partners: University of Sheffield

    Many of the threats facing marine biodiversity, from climate change to overfishing, occur over very large areas, yet most of our knowledge of marine ecology is derived from rather small-scale studies. To address this mismatch, there is therefore a pressing need to find ways to scale up local knowledge so that we can gain a better understanding of how biodiversity is distributed at scales relevant to international environmental policy. An important first step in this direction has already been taken, through efforts to pool the results of local surveys into regional biodiversity databases. For instance, data on the distribution of all kinds of organisms living in the sediment at the bottom of the sea (so-called benthic species) throughout Europe have been gathered together, from the Arctic in the north to the Mediterranean in the south. Much of Europe's biodiversity is to be found among such underappreciated groups, and our principle aim is to use this huge database to gain a better understanding of how these very diverse species are distributed over this very large area. Back on dry land, ecologists have developed a range of methods to address such questions. We plan to use a method applied so far only to the analysis of vegetation surveys at rather small scales, which uses a simple a geometric process to predict how a given number of individual organisms are likely to be distributed between all samples in the survey. This process can be applied across species, and produces a series of predictions regarding the large-scale distribution of biodiversity, such as the number of species expected to be observed in a given area, and the relative numbers of common and rare species. This approach will be really useful when applied to the European benthic species for two reasons. First, a general agreement with the predictions of the theory is useful in determining the general principles responsible for the patterns of biodiversity that we observe. Second, perhaps more importantly, the way in which our observations differ from the theoretical predictions can go a long way towards explaining which kinds of features present in real life but not in the theory (for example, biological differences between species) are actually important in terms of the spatial distribution of biodiversity. We can again draw on ecological theory to make predictions about the biological characteristics likely to be important in this respect - for instance, we expect that the population structure of species which produce larvae that drift in the plankton will differ from species in which offspring develop in direct proximity to the adults. But biology is not the only thing likely to influence patterns of diversity. As another example, we expect patterns to differ in areas which are heavily impacted by human activities - for instance, we know that benthic communities can be significantly affected by certain kinds of commercial fishing, particularly trawling - compared with areas which are relatively more pristine. As part of our project, we plan to collect data from the literature on both the biology of the species in our database, and on features of the environment (including human impacts) in different areas, to allow us to test such hypotheses. Although in general we know much more about terrestrial than marine biodiversity, some of the questions we can address with new marine databases have actually proved very difficult to test on land. Our results will therefore be of great interest to all ecologists working on large scale patterns of biodiversity. By establishing a collaboration between a university department dominated by the study of terrestrial ecology and a leading marine institute, we will be in an enviable position to communicate the results of our work to as wide an audience as possible. As well as extending the scale of marine biodiversity research, then, we hope also to expand the horizons of marine and terrestrial ecologists.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/R010420/1
    Funder Contribution: 3,687,510 GBP
    Partners: University of Sheffield

    The UK water sector faces very significant challenges: increasing population, higher customer expectations, better protection of the natural environment, with reducing resource availability and uncertain climate change. These pressures particularly combine in urban areas where the majority of the UK's citizens live and which are served by large and increasingly unsustainable and inflexible "legacy" water and drainage systems. These large legacy systems are a deteriorating asset in which there have been long term reductions in real terms investment. In the UK, inferred sewer and clean water asset design lives are 800+ and 120+ years, respectively. Yet with the current average asset life of around 70 years we are already experiencing unacceptable levels of service. The current premise of operating urban water systems with continual, gradual deterioration is no longer acceptable. If we wish to avoid massive future bills for wholesale renewal of our water infrastructure we urgently need to understand deterioration and develop innovative ways of monitoring and intervening. Water utilities are traditionally cautious innovation adopters given the significant potential health and environmental implications of their actions. Appreciating this and the long term pressures facing the UK's (and international) water infrastructure systems it is clear that there is an urgent need for more scientifically based approaches and better evidenced technologies to meet future expectations without a significant economic burden on water users. UKCRIC will enhance research capacities in the following areas at three of the UK's leading urban water research groups (Cranfield, Newcastle and Sheffield Universities) to address this issue. 1. Surface water management and smart water systems (Newcastle University): A new surface water management facility with equivalent urban infrastructure test-beds for energy, transport and ICT will be delivered. The facility will be modular so components can be tested in isolation, in series to model urban water as it moves from the roof to the river . 2. Distributed water infrastructure (University of Sheffield): A new specially designed water asset failure and deterioration facility will enable full scale experimentation of water and sewer pipes and ancillary structures to study deterioration and failure mechanisms, in-pipe biological/chemical and physical processes, flooding and corrosion processes and the assessment of asset condition under realistic environments. The existing world leading facilities of the Pennine Water Group at Sheffield will be enhanced with improved measurement capabilities. 3. Wastewater and potable water treatment (Cranfield University): A new potable water pilot hall will enhance the existing suite of industrial-scale test facilities. The facility will support research on the interdependencies between treatment and distribution processes, on condition monitoring & performance technologies. A breakthrough innovation hub will provide flexible space for design, rapid prototyping and testing of novel infrastructure components and sub-systems, visualisation facilities will provide access to sensor data from both on and off campus infrastructure systems providing opportunities for advances in analytics and testing The aim of the UKCRIC facilities is to provide a collaborative, world-class research infrastructure that will allow UK researchers and innovators in the water sector to come together share ideas and then benefit from access to world class laboratories to develop and demonstrate those concepts so and to get them to a level of maturity appropriate for implementation to achieve long term impact on the UK's water infrastructure. This new knowledge, evidence and innovation will impact on our current urban water systems by reducing the risk of failure, reducing their environmental impact and reducing the likelihood of unacceptably high future investment.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J01561X/1
    Funder Contribution: 150,264 GBP
    Partners: University of Sheffield

    Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 2115053
    Partners: University of Sheffield

    Hearing is profoundly important and its loss can have a dramatic impact on our daily lives. It is particularly common with ageing though surprisingly the genetic reasons behind hearing loss are only just being uncovered. We have very recently identified a completely new gene required to maintain normal hearing and have found that loss of just one copy of this gene is sufficient to cause deafness. Surprisingly this gene plays a role in the transport of mRNA within the cell from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, a process used by all eukaryotic cells, not just those associated with hearing and so why loss of this gene specifically causes deafness is an enigma. In this project you will make use of a transgenic mouse which lacks one copy of this gene to establish the molecular basis for the hearing loss. The project involves a collaboration between the laboratories of Prof Walter Marcotti, an expert in hearing and Prof. Stuart Wilson an expert in mRNA transport. You will be trained in a wide range of in vivo techniques such as patch clamping and confocal microscopy together with the latest techniques in gene expression analysis using next generation DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to explore what has gone wrong in the transgenic deaf mice. You will complete your PhD with a wide range of highly desirable skills which would provide a firm foundation for a career in academia or industry.