Group members

RK
Risto
Koivula
University Researcher
Department of Chemistry
Field of science Chemical sciences

Hi, my name is Risto Koivula and I have worked with ion exchangers since my graduation on radiochemistry in 1996 (M.Sc.). My first project concerned the removal of heavy metals from metal plating industry (Brite Euram EU-project 96-99) where chelating ion exchangers were used mainly as end-of-pipe polishing materials. Since then my focus has been on inorganic ion exchange materials. I got my PhD. (2003) from the selective removal of activated corrosion products from nuclear power plant waste waters utilizing highly selective metal oxides. The following years has been filled with different projects and innovations in the area of selective separations, working mainly with inorganic materials in association with nuclear and mining industry.

Over two decades work in the ion exchange group has deepened my knowledge and interest on the selective separations and educated me from the junior researcher into the group leader (2016) that I now am. This position allows me to seek out new materials and methods for selective separations and boldly use them in applications where they haven’t been used before.

Education and background

I graduated from the Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki, in 2012 as an analytical chemist. The topic of my Master’s work was screening of waste water treatment plant effluents by comprehensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCxGC-MS) for pharmaceuticals. Soon thereafter, I started work at the unit of Radiochemistry on the topic of ion exchange, and later enrolled as a doctoral student here.

Current work

I am now researching on the field of spent nuclear fuel partitioning & transmutation. My project aims to create new selective inorganic ion exchangers for the purpose of actinide and lanthanide uptake from acidic media, such as the current spent fuel treatment process effluents, and partitioning of said elements to facilitate transmutation strategies. Currently on this topic, we are looking into inorganic metal phosphates with multiple publications on the way.

Other interests

Nature, hardware and software, coding, mathematics, archery, dogs, champagne, and FUN.

SL
Satu
Lönnrot
Doctoral Student
Department
Field of science Chemical sciences

Education and background

I finished my M.Sc degree in Radiochemistry from University of Helsinki at the end of 2015. The subject of my master’s thesis was a sorption of trivalent lanthanides and actinides on corundum (Al2O3). I have worked as a research assistant in the ion exchange group (2013-2014) and also as assistant in a nuclear waste disposal study (2015) that continued my master’s thesis study. At 2013 I had a summer work at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) where I did mainly sample pre-treatments for natural samples.

Current work

I started my PhD study at the beginning of 2016 in the ion exchange group in the NanoFib project. The project focuses on developing inorganic nanofibrous ion exchangers for radionuclide and heavy metal removal. My part in this project is studying ion exchange properties of these nanofibers. By far the main focus has been removal of cobalt, antimony and technetium from salt solutions but also new ion exchangers are under development for separation of other metals.

Interests and skills

I have experience in radio analytical methods (gamma detectors, liquid scintillation) and elemental analysis (ICP-MS). My interest have also been in chemical modelling.

WZ
Wenzhong
Zhang
Postdoctoral researcher
Department
Field of science Chemical sciences

Background and education

I obtained both my B.Sc. (2012) and M.Sc. degree (2015) in environmental science and engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. My previous work concerns mainly heavy metal removal using inorganic zeolites, fabrication of hybrid composite materials utilizing naturally occurring polysaccharides, and environmental toxicological evaluation of organoarsenic compounds.

Current work

I am currently working in an EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN project REDMUD (European Training Network for Zero-Waste Valorisation of Bauxite Residue). REDMUD aims at developing a fully closed-loop environmentally-friendly recovery flow sheet for bauxite residue valorisation. My subproject is focused on the synthesis of inorganic metal phosphate ion-exchangers for selective separation of rare earth elements (especially scandium) from acid leachate of bauxite residue. Recently, my work has extended to the preparation of organic-inorganic hybrid materials based on metal phosphate platform.

Interests and skills

I have experience in inorganic synthesis, some metal analysis techniques (digestion, FAAS, ICP-OES, MP-OES, HG-AFS) and material characterization techniques (SEM-EDX, AFM, XRD, TGA, IR).

VS
Valtteri
Suorsa
Doctoral Student
Department
Field of science Chemical sciences

Back­ground and edu­ca­tion

I finished my master's thesis and received my M.Sc degree in Chemistry from University of Helsinki in spring term 2017. The subject of my master's thesis was the interaction of radionuclides with clay minerals, especially clay colloids. The work was done partly in University of Helsinki and partly in Institute for Nuclear Waste Disposal (INE) in Karslruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In Karlsruhe I utilized Laser-Induced Breakdown Detection for particle analysis of montmorillonite colloids. During my studies I have worked as a research assistant in bentonite erosion and radionuclide sorption studies (2013-2015) before working on my Master's thesis.

Cur­rent work

After finishing my M.Sc degree I started my PhD project related to the removal of iodine from process and ground waters utilizing inorganic ionexchangers. Compared to the previous subject of my studies, the inorganic ion exchange research have a different approach and view to the same natural processes that are going in the sorption of radionuclides onto natural clay minerals. Of course, the material science is a new subject for me and offers a new branch of expertise to learn.

In­terests and skills

I have knowledge on different analytical methods for Radioactivity detection (LSC, gamma detectors), elemental analysis (ICP-MS, MP-OES), particle analysis (Dynamic Light Scattering, Zeta potential measurements) and GC-MS.

Background and education

I originally come from the catalysis and green chemistry group of Helsinki university where I finished my Master’s project (2019). In my Masters’s thesis I was exploring the possibilities of carbon dioxide in the NHC-copper(I)-catalyzed synthesis of different carboxylic acids from unsaturated hydrocarbons. Organometallic chemistry, catalysis and CO2 utilization in organic synthesis were the main topics when working in the catalysis group. During my studies I have worked as a research assistant in the catalysis group and participated in two publications. These publications were related to copper(I)-Schiff-base-complexes in order to oxidize alcohols in a more selective and efficient ways and preparation of pharmaceutically relevant cyclic carbamate structures. I also have experience as a teaching assistant from basic inorganic chemistry laboratory courses.

Current work

I started my PhD project in May 2019 in which I develop strategies for group separation of lanthanides and actinides. The focus is on porous inorganics combined to different f-metal selective organic functional groups which create a framework for Ac/Ln selective hybridmaterials.

Interests and skills

I have experience in basic analytical techniques, such as GC-MS, LC and NMR. I am excited to gain expertise in the field of radiochemistry and I am also interested in learning new different techniques, for example XAS and XRD.