He will receive the award during the 60th anniversary of the  Clay Minerals Society in Austin next May. The award is designed to recognize mid-career scientists for excellence in contributing new knowledge to clay minerals science through original and scholarly research.

Tournassat is an expert in reactive transport modeling whose work has spanned a range of topics from pore-water chemistry in claystones and the fate of iodine in clay barriers to sorption processes on clay minerals and anomalous transport properties of clayey materials. Improving what is known about these topics is essential to various energy-related applications such as the underground storage of radioactive waste, which involves engineered and natural clay barriers.  Clays are also important for geological carbon storage (GCS) technologies wherein carbon dioxide is injected and permanently stored underground in mineral form. Contributing to these important topics has required Tournassat to develop and apply expertise in the chemical and physical behavior of clays through experimentation, characterization, and modeling over a wide range of scales from the molecular to that of the underground research laboratory.

Tournassat has worked at EESA in various capacities since 2013 when Senior Scientist and Geochemistry Department Head Carl Steefel invited him to collaborate on DOE projects exploring new horizons in clay science that make use of reactive transport modeling and molecular dynamics. The pair also co-edited a book with Ian Bourg and F. Bergaya on “Natural and Engineered Clay Barriers.” In 2020, Christophe Tournassat became a Professor at the University of Orléans, France, and, in 2021 Visiting Faculty at Berkeley Lab.

“Christophe has had a great impact on our field not just in the U.S. and France but across the globe. His work spans a breadth of topics using modeling, experimentation, and characterization, perhaps unique among present-day clay scientists,” Steefel said. “He is on the leading edge in developing models for simulating the behavior of contaminants in clay rocks, especially for the problem of geological disposal of waste in the subsurface. The models are the first of their kind in the world, and are of great interest to U.S. Nuclear Waste Program, as well as the Programs in Europe and Asia.”