Renewed project could protect environment for millennia

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CLEMSON — A team that has included more than 85 researchers from three South Carolina universities is receiving $2 million to continue investigating how buried nuclear waste would react with soil and groundwater if it were to leak into the environment.
It’s a project that researchers said could help ensure safe disposal of nuclear waste, ideally for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years.
Brian Powell, right, works on a test bed that was developed for the team’s research.
The project, led by Brian Powell of Clemson University, began in 2014 with $5.25 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, also commonly called by the acronym EPSCoR.
The additional $2 million comes from the same program and funds the project for two more years, bringing the funding total so far to $7.25 million.
“Like every good research project, we started down a path and found some new things out, and that generated more questions than answers,” Powell said. “We are grateful to have the renewal period to start pushing out into those additional areas. We’re very well equipped and aligned now to continue advancing this project into the renewal phase and continue the work we envisioned four years ago when we started.”
The project has brought together a versatile team of researchers from Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and South Carolina State University.  They include 24 faculty members, 20 undergraduates, 26 graduate students and 13 postdoctoral fellows.
Fifteen master’s students and three Ph.D. students have graduated as a result of the work they have done thus far on the project.
The team’s members have published 24 articles related to their research on the project and pioneered new ways of using technology developed for medical-imaging to study the movement of radionuclides through soil.
Timothy DeVol, the Toshiba Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Clemson, said the team’ …

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