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High Scientific Council PhD Award Finalist 2020

The European Nuclear Society  High Scientific Council is comprised of 22 scientists from 16 countries.  They met remotely on 22 April 2020 and have selected 4 our of 9 candidates to enter the final stage of which Dr Steph Thronber is one. The final is likely to be held in Brussels towards the end of the year. (date to be confirmed)

Dr Stephanie Thornber is a senior research technologist at The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) specialising in ceramic wasteforms and thermal treatment technologies with a focus on the disposition of UK plutonium oxide materials. Stephanie has a background in Materials Science and successfully defended her PhD thesis in 2018 at The University of Sheffield. Her PhD thesis titled; The development of zirconolite glass-ceramics for the disposition of actinide wastes, was funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) PhD Bursary scheme and has provided valuable information in support of the NDA’s mission to determine a suitable policy for the long-term management of UK plutonium material. Stephanie developed and studied a glass-ceramic formulation, fabricated by Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIPing), that optimised the product phase assemblage for maximum waste loading capacity. The formulation was validated through inactive surrogate work, low active uranium work and small scale plutonium work, which was conducted at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Throughout her PhD Stephanie utilised HIP as the thermal treatment technology for fabricating the glass-ceramic wasteforms and she facilitated commissioning of the World’s first Active Furnace Isolation Chamber (AFIC) at Sheffield, to enable the production of uranium bearing research HIP samples. Stephanie has presented her PhD work at multiple national and international events and has published her work in peer-reviewed journals. Her PhD work has received multiple honours and awards, including young invited speaker at the Materials Research Society conference 2019, Best Presentation at the American Ceramic Society’s UK Chapter event in 2018 and the Longenecker and Associates Award at Waste Management conference 2016.

Stephanie is now continuing her research at NNL, where she is a leading member of the thermal treatment team within Waste Management and Decommissioning. Stephanie continues to develop ceramic and glass-ceramic wasteforms for plutonium immobilisation and is involved in the design and development of an active HIP facility, which will enable the production of active HIP samples with UK PuO2. This facility will significantly enhance the UK’s capabilities for developing ceramic wasteforms for nuclear waste immobilisation and will be a key step towards advancement of the technology readiness level of HIP for treating nuclear waste materials.