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Application of Lemna-based technologies to remediate radioactively polluted water and investigation of valorisation potential of residual phases

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This research topic deals with the application of Lemna minor in water depollution strategies. As environmental pollution is a worldwide issue, remediation actions are advised to mitigate further dispersion of pollutants in the environment and reduce the risk towards people and the wildlife. Management and conservation of clean surface- and ground water is especially set by the United Nations as one of its sustainable development goals.

Building further on the interactive modelling and experimental approach developed for individual pollutants and varying environmental conditions, this research aims to increase understanding of removal processes for mixtures of radionuclides and pollutants and to translate this knowledge into mathematical processes that will be gradually implemented in a modelling platform. To go beyond laboratory based studies and determine the transferability of the developed model towards realistic waste water and field conditions, the student will work directly with and apply the modelling approach to semi-lab based experiments with real uranium-mine leachates. Moreover, in keeping with the circular economy concept and to make a phytoremediation based system of economic interest, the valorisation potential of the generated residues will be evaluated. This includes both the use of the remediated water within statutory regulations as the treatment of Lemna minor biomass as valuable resource.

By better understanding the processes that drive the removal of (radioactive) pollutants using Lemna minor and mathematically translating this knowledge into a remediation model, the actual outcome of a Lemna-based remediation system can be realistically evaluated. This, together with knowledge on valorisation options for the generated waste, will ensure the positioning of Lemna minor and phytoremediation in general as a valuable remediation option.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Master of industrial sciences
  • Master of sciences
  • Master of sciences in engineering

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Bio-engineering
  • Biology

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group

Biosphere Impact Studies

SCK CEN Mentor

Vanhoudt Nathalie
nvanhoud [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 21 12

SCK CEN Co-mentor

Vives i Batlle Jordi
jvibatll [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 88 05

Promotor

Vangronsveld Jaco
jaco.vangronsveld [at] uhasselt.be