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European Geosciences Union

PhD position "Diffusion of gases in desaturated clay-based materials"

PhD position "Diffusion of gases in desaturated clay-based materials"

Catholic University of Leuven & Belgian Nuclear Research Center logo

Catholic University of Leuven & Belgian Nuclear Research Center

Preparing your doctoral thesis at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre offers you the best of both worlds: you stay in close contact with the academic world and you enjoy a unique international research environment, with advanced nuclear experimental facilities and top-level guidance from our experts.

Furthermore, you participate in multidisciplinary research, either directly because of the characteristics of your own research topic or indirectly via exchanges with your colleagues in other nuclear domains.

Finally, you can benefit from the excellent reputation of the SCK* CEN Academy as an education & training centre and take advantage of the courses organised by the SCK* CEN Learning Centre.


Mol & Leuven, Belgium


Relevant divisions
Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE)
Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology (GMPV)


Student / Graduate / Internship

scholarship, payment via University

Required education

Application deadline
27 March 2019

22 January 2019

Job description

PhD position at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgian Nuclear Research Center and Paul Scherrer Institute

In support of the research programme related to the safe disposal of nuclear waste, KU Leuven, SCK* CEN and PSI are looking for a PhD candidate for following topic:
Diffusion of gases in desaturated clay-based materials

The main aim of the PhD is to investigate how desaturation influences the diffusive properties of the samples for gases. This will be accomplished by performing diffusion experiments on different clay-rich materials (e.g. Boom Clay, Opalinus Clay, bentonite, sand-bentonite mixtures, …) at different degrees of saturation (but still highly saturated to avoid a continuous gas pathway), using different gases (He, Ne, CH4, C2H6). Different methods to perform transport experiments under desaturated conditions exist (e.g. osmosis method, saturated salt method …), but none of them has been used to measure diffusivity of dissolved gases. Diffusivity data will be complemented with a full petrophysical characterisation of all samples in order to assess the effect of changing petrophysical properties on diffusivity, and to compare the observations to those of fully saturated samples. The PhD will be executed in the international context of the EC-EURAD project, with close collaboration between SCK-CEN and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI, CH) and other partners involved in EURAD.

More information on the topic & how to apply can be found on

For further details, please contact Dr. Elke Jacops (
Deadline for application is March 27, 2019.