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Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program

2018 Summer Internship Opportunities

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Internships

Expected Start Date: The program is 10 weeks in duration, starting May 21, 2018. Start date is flexible based on laboratory and candidate availability.

Application Deadline: January 12, 2018

Location: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

Salary: Selected candidate will be compensated by either a stipend or salary, and may include one round trip domestic travel to and from the host laboratory. Stipends and salaries will be commensurate with cost of living at the location of the host laboratory. Housing information will be provided to interns prior to arrival at the host laboratory, and will vary from lab to lab.

Hours: Full-Time

Technetium and Low Activity Waste DOE-MSIPP-18-1-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, or related field. 

Desired skills: Basic computer skill including familiarity with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Some experience working at a chemistry laboratory is desirable.

Technetium is the main risk driver in the permanent disposal of low activity waste (LAW) by vitrification at the Hanford site due to its high volatility and only fractional incorporation to the borosilicate glass waste. The major fraction of the volatilized Tc is captured by the off-gas treatment system as a condensate and necessitates its recycling back to the LAW glass melter feed. Off-gas recycle is effective at increasing Tc loading in the LAW glass, but it also disproportionately increases concentrations of sulfate, halides, and other problematic materials impeding overall LAW processing. This proposal offers an alternative disposal route to continuous off-gas recycling back to the vitrification plant, which may result in a significant reduction in the aqueous volumes of LAW waste to be immobilized in the glass waste form and subsequent cost savings.

The project objective is to determine the suitability of zero valent iron (ZVI) as a separation technology to remove Tc from the off-gas condensate stream to minimize its recycle. While ZVI has been proposed for the remediation applications, it has not been studied for suitability to remove Tc from the LAW off-gas condensate, and many fundamental questions remain. It is expected that Tc will be reduced to Tc(IV) species and incorporated into the iron matrix. The molecular mechanisms of these processes are not well understood and will be probed in by various spectroscopic and microscopy techniques as a function of off-gas stream composition, pH, presence of the competing redox active constituents, and others. To develop a separation process, we will examine Tc removal and incorporation into iron phases via batch and column experiments under relevant conditions for the off-gas condensate to determine the optimum conditions and configuration for treatment. Solids characterization studies will provide insights to the mechanisms of Tc incorporation into iron phases.

Multimodal Sensor Platform for Environmental Remediation (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-2-PNNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in chemistry, or related field.

Desired skills: Basic computer skill including familiarity with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Some experience working at a chemistry laboratory is desirable.

Development of a field-deployable, universal sensor platform to rapidly detect/quantify multiple chemically-diverse analytes from solution has significant impact in environmental monitoring. Toward this goal, the overall objective of the proposed work is to utilize multimodal analytical approach to develop a single integrated sensor platform for in-situ monitoring of multiple analytes that are relevant to DOE-EM. The primary focus of the proposed work is the detection of contaminant analytes from ground water samples (representative examples being but not limited to CCl4, TcO4- and NO3-). The choice of the target analyte will be based on (a) their relevance to Hanford, WA as well as in DOE-EM mission space and (b) being diverse enough that demonstrating their simultaneous detection on one platform would show that the approach/platform can be extended to other analytes as well. The overall objective of this project is to (a) effective design of sensors for the target analytes, (b) integration of multiple analyte-detection on a single platform, and (c) demonstrate their detection under multicomponent field-relevant conditions.

Transportation of Radiological Waste Slurries DOE-MSIPP-18-3-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current junior undergraduate (rising senior) or graduate student pursuing a degree in chemical or mechanical engineering, physics, or related field.

Desired skills: Mechanical, chemical or aerospace engineer rising senior student or early graduate school studies with an interest in fluid dynamics. Completion of the introduction to fluid dynamics and airflow dynamic classes is desired.

The project involves matching interns with national experts in pipeline particle deposition whom would mentor their work. The goal is to benchmark and evaluate recently advanced particle deposition velocity models for use in nuclear and industrial waste and slurry transfer design.

The Oroskar-Turian (OT) correlation is widely-used in slurry handling industries for selecting transfer line design velocities that limit accumulation of solids and pipeline plugging.   The OT correlation (Oroskar and Turian, 1980) is a semi-empirical power-law fit of available critical deposition velocity data measured for common industrial suspensions and slurries. Although widely used, application of the OT correlation is effectively limited to the systems from which it derives, that is Newtonian systems with well relatively monodisperse solids (with respect to both particle size and solid-phase speciation).   As such, no formal design methodology or correlation is available to readily assessing deposition in pipelines handling non-Newtonian fluids. Recent work by Poloski et al. (2007) addresses the need for deposition velocity predictions for non-Newtonian fluids, and staff at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have further refined this method to allow evaluations of poly-disperse solids.   While the “Poloski” method performance has been evaluated against a small set of Newtonian and non-Newtonian engineering-scale deposition tests, it has not be validated against the larger body of historical and industrial deposition data. The objective of the current proposed study would to validate the Poloski model against all available deposition data, including recent non-Newtonian slurry deposition assessments and the historic data used to derive the OT correlation. Last summer, the project conducted a major literature survey to collect available deposition data for both Newtonian and non-Newtonian systems. This summer will bench mark the “Poloski” method and a recently advanced "turbulent transition" model's performance in predicting critical deposition velocity in those systems. The bench marking will determine which approach should go forward to publication or be extended to further model enhancement.

Compositional Study of the Relative Durability of Various Waste Forms DOE-MSIPP-18-4-PNNL

The successful candidate will be current undergraduate (rising senior) or graduate student in materials engineering, chemistry, earth sciences, environmental sciences, or geological sciences, or related field.

Desired skills: Coursework in chemistry, geology, or geochemistry. The candidate should have, at a minimum, taken a class in general chemistry, geology, or geochemistry, and the candidate should have taken a course where work in the laboratory was performed. A preference will be given to candidates who have or will be taking an analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, or materials science course. The candidate should be familiar with Microsoft Office.

Various materials can potentially be used to confine radioactive waste, including glass and cement waste forms. After being fabricated, these waste forms must be stable in a repository environment to ensure that the release of radionuclides and other contaminants are below regulatory requirements.

In this study, the intern will aid in the design of a simulant nuclear waste form and design a set of experiments to understand the role of different components on the relative durability of the waste form in an aqueous environment. He/she will be exposed to various analytical techniques in the project. These analytical techniques will include both analysis of solutions and solids.

Computer Science - Software Engineering (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-5-PNNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in computer science, or related field.

Desired skills: Exposure to one or more: PHP, JavaScript (jQuery), Python, HTML5/CSS3, or Java. General web development and/or testing methods preferred. Exposure or experience with database development using SQL Server or similar. Preferred skills (but not required) include GIT. Strong written, verbal, analytical, and interpersonal skills required. Display maturity and high level of professionalism. Exposure or experience problem solving, rapidly learning and adapting in a professional environment.

This project focuses on scientific problem solving by developing complex computer code. Applicants should have experience using PHP, JavaScript (jQuery), Python, HTML5/CSS3, or Java. Projects will work on optimizing solutions for energy and working with big data.

New Methods of Crucial Element Extraction from Complex Environments DOE-MSIPP-18-6-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in chemistry, or related field.

Desired skills: Previous wet chemistry laboratory experience would be an asset. Preferred class requirements are chemistry, geochemistry, geology or chemical engineering, however not required.

As global consumption of resources expand, we must turn to new, environmental sustainable, and energy efficient means of extracting resources from natural reserves. Species such as lithium, uranium and the rare earth elements are crucial to our society’s energy sector. However, increased demand, decreasing production, increasing costs and global economics place a strain on standard surface mining efforts for acquiring such materials. Thus, alternate methods of extracting crucial elements must be developed. In this project, work will be focused towards using novel techniques for elements extraction from complex subsurface environments (such as geothermal brines) or complex aqueous environments (such as seawater). The researcher will be involved in experimental work testing materials for extraction from these complex environments, analytical approaches for monitoring removal and interactions of species with their near environment. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience in a new and emerging research field.

Particle-filter Interactions in Crossflow Filtration DOE-MSIPP-18-7-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in civil, environmental, chemical, or nuclear engineering, or related field.

Desired skills: Have completed undergraduate fluid dynamics or transport coursework. Previous experience operating crossflow filtration systems are desired but not required.

Crossflow microfiltration using sintered stainless steel filters is used in the concentration and separation of nuclear waste slurries. Optimization of nuclear waste filtration operations could be improved by increasing understanding of how waste solids accumulate on and adhere to the stainless steel filter. Currently, few filtration studies have evaluated accumulation dynamics and stability on the sintered steel filters used in nuclear waste treatment. This project seeks to improve understanding by direct visual observation and modeling of solids accumulation using idealized waste filtration simulants. Participants will assist in collection of filtration performance data and link that data to extent of filter surface solids accumulation.

Numerical Modeling/Programming for Subsurface Sciences (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-8-PNNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in computer science, engineering, or related field.

Desired skills: Computer programming skills in python, fortran95, or C/C++, matlab, scilab or other programming package. Computer programming, code compiling, unix/linux. Familiarity with geosciences preferred, but not required.

Depending on expertise, the applicant will be involved with developing and testing codes directed toward subsurface geophysical imaging. Interns will help develop python wrappers for parallel computing codes, which will automate (for example) code compilation and quality control checks, 4D visualization routines, and geophysical data processing. Familiarity with python is not prerequisite, but will be developed as part of the internship.

Investigation of Technetium in Tank Waste DOE-MSIPP-18-9-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, or related field.

Desired skills: Basic computer skill including familiarity with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Some experience working at a chemistry laboratory is desirable.

Technetium (Tc), which exists predominately in the liquid supernatant and salt cake fractions of the nuclear tank waste stored at the U.S. DOE Hanford Site, is one of the most difficult contaminants to dispose of and/or remediate. In the strongly alkaline environments prevalent in the tank waste, its dominant chemical form is pertechnetate (oxidation state +7). However, based on experimentation to-date, a significant fraction of the soluble Tc cannot be effectively separated from the wastes and may be present as a non-pertechnetate species. The presence of a non-pertechnetate species significantly complicates disposition of low-activity waste (LAW), and the development of methods to either convert them to pertechnetate or to separate directly is needed. Intern research activities will encompass preparation and testing of oxidizing agents suitable for the oxidation of non-pertechnetate to Tc(+7) and stable in the highly alkaline concentrated brine-like solutions typical for the Hanford wastes. It is envisioned that intern will use various spectroscopic techniques and other physical methods to probe the oxidation mechanism.


Investigating Tank Waste DOE-MSIPP-18-10-PNNL

The successful candidate will be a current undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree in chemistry, or related field.

Desired skills: Experience in using spectroscopic characterization tools, along with general inorganic chemistry experimental skills. The candidate should have good communications skills, including scientific writing.

This project will investigate the dynamics of radioactive environments and materials. The intern will focus on developing strategies to determine structural and dynamic properties of chemical systems with special emphasis on the structures and geometries.

Glass Processing (2 Internships) DOE-MSIPP-18-11-PNNL

The successful candidates will be current undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in chemical or mechanical engineering, chemistry, materials science, or related field.

Desired skills: Proficiency in chemistry, materials science, engineering (chemical, mechanical), or physical sciences. College chemistry with laboratory experience, computer, scientific (specifically inorganic chemistry techniques in the laboratory), and mathematical skills are essential.

The selected interns will assist team of researchers with experimental work including glass processing (preparation of experimental glasses), preparation of chemical batches for heat treatments or melting, and preparation of samples for analysis.   Analysis of samples will include optical microscopy with image analysis, thermal analysis by thermal gravimetric methods, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). 

Presentation of experimental work and data to staff at meetings is required. Student(s) are encouraged to follow up research with a publication.