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Gironda awarded renewable energy scholarship

By Theresa Gabrielli
August 30, 2023

Anthony Gironda has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship through the Renewable Energy Scholarship Foundation for his work investigating materials for nuclear waste disposal.

Nuclear power is generally considered a safe and clean method of electricity generation that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, with one caveat: Once-through nuclear fuel cycles have left approximately 80,000 tons of spent nuclear waste in the US alone. How can we safely dispose of that waste without radioactivity seeping into the surrounding environment?

Anthony Gironda

Gironda, a second-year Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering, is working to determine if storage containers made of things like concrete are capable of containing radioactivity long term. Nuclear waste can remain radioactive for thousands of years, so scientists need to understand how the storage containers they use will behave or corrode after centuries or even millennia.

Gironda is developing new instrumentation with x-ray technology to characterize different concretes and corrosive environments. By using known techniques like x-ray emission spectroscopy and x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy, he believes he can characterize the elemental bonding within concretes and cements to identify the best material candidates for long-term disposal.

The Renewable Energy Scholarship Foundation provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, who are actively studying any aspect of renewable energy, whether that be in the sciences, public policy, law, economics or sociology.

“My goal with this research is to study concretes and cements proposed for spent nuclear fuel disposal,” said Gironda. “Despite an uncertain future in nuclear energy in the U.S., responsible nuclear fuel disposal is still an important part in a net-zero future, and the recognition and support from the scholarship is further allowing me to pursue important research questions like this.”