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PhD Vacancies

Click on the PhD Studentship which you are interested in and find out more information about it below.

Model reduction and homogenisation for filtration and adsorption

Supervisers: Dr Matteo Icardi (School of Mathematical Sciences)

Starting date: September 2017. Studentship will remain open until it is filled.

Funding: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full Stipend at the RCUK rate, which is £14,296 per annum for 2016/17. There will also be some support available for you to claim for limited conference attendance.

Length of Studentship: 3 or 3.5 years, depending on the qualifications and training needs of the successful applicant.

Entry Requirements: an enthusiastic graduate with a 1st class degree in Mathematics (or other highly mathematical field such as Physics or Chemistry), preferably at MMath/MSc level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

This project will be based at the University of Nottingham in the School of Mathematical Sciences in collaboration with the GeoEnergy Research Centre.

Porous media are ubiquitous in natural and engineered transport processes. When colloids or diffusive particles flows through their complex geometrical structure, non-trivial interactions arise between the advection, diffusion, particle-particle and particle-wall interactions. These processes can be modelled and simulated with computationally intensive three-dimensional simulations. In this project, a combination of rigorous multiscale analytical and numerical techniques will be used to derive and calibrate faster and simple models for filtration and adsorption processes. Extensions to include electrostatic forces and electrochemical reactions will be also considered.

The project is part of a wider research effort that sees the collaboration of several UK and international academic partners, and industrial partners in the Automotive and Oil & Gas sector.

For any enquiries please email Matteo Icardi

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Modelling gas uptake in shale and coal

Supervisors: Dr Richard Wheatley (School of Chemistry), Dr Richard Graham (School of Mathematical Sciences), Professor Matthew Hall (GERC)

Starting date: September 2017. Studentship will remain open until it is filled.

Funding: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full Stipend at the RCUK rate, which is £14,296 per annum for 2016/17. There will also be some support available for you to claim for limited conference attendance.

Length of studentships: 3 or 3.5 years depending on the qualifications and training needs of the successful applicant.

Entry Requirements:1st class degree in a relevant discipline such as Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Physics or Mathematics, preferably at MSc/MRes level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree can be considered). Computer programming skills would be a useful asset.

This project is based at the University of Nottingham in the School of Chemistry.

The tendency of methane and other hydrocarbons to adsorb on the surface of pores in shale and coal affects the amount of natural gas that can be extracted as fuel. The adsorption of carbon dioxide is important in predicting the efficiency and stability of carbon sequestration. Applications such as these have led to a growing interest in measuring and modelling the interactions between gases and pores in rocks and minerals.

This studentship will involve molecular modelling of the gas uptake process. Information at the molecular scale is not readily available from experiments, and molecular modelling has the potential to add significantly to our knowledge of this process by considering, for example, competitive adsorption between different gases and water, the role of different adsorption sites, and the role played by the structure of the pore network.

The work will take place within the School of Chemistry, which has an ongoing collaboration with the School of Mathematical Sciences and with the GERC, which is a joint venture between the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham. This will ensure that state-of-the-art experimental and modelling methods will be available within the research team.

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Multiscale Finite Elements for Reactive Transport in Natural Porous Media: The Impacts of Dissolution, Precipitation, and Clogging at the Pore Scale

Supervisors: Dr Donald Brown (School of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr Bagus Muljadi (Faculty of Engineering)

Starting date: September 2017. Studentship will remain open until it is filled.

Funding: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full Stipend at the RCUK rate, which is £14,296 per annum for 2016/17.

Length of studentship: 3.5 years

Entry Requirements: 1st class degree in Mathematics (or other highly mathematical subject), preferably at Masters level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 degree can be considered).

This project is primarily concerned with safe storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), efficient recovery from hydrocarbon reservoirs, and groundwater transport. In many of these applications, complex geological structures host reactive transport processes spanning a huge range of spatial and temporal scales. The accuracy of predictions can depend on factors such as the spatial resolution of the simulations and physical models at particular scales for example pore-scale to Darcy-scale. This challenge is exacerbated when the host rock geometries evolve due to dissolution or clogging effects that can occur due to fluid-solid reaction at the pore scale.

Utilizing multiscale finite elements in complex pore geometries has been an area of vivid current research. However, these methods suppose a fixed rock microstructure and do not include the effects of dissolution, precipitation, or clogging. The key challenge being that solving fully-resolved microstructural problems in each coarse block is expensive. One method of attack is to suppose pore scale geometries are parameterized and reduced basis or empirical interpolation methods can be utilized. This a project that is challenging both numerically, but also in terms of physical modelling.

This PhD studentship aims to develop efficient techniques to incorporate these higher order effects into multiscale finite elements at the pore-scale.  For this project, candidates with experience with numerical methods as well as ability to program in MATLAB or other programming languages would be at an advantage. This project will also include possible linkages and training with industrial partner's reservoir simulation software Petrel.

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Fluid permeation through rock spaces

Supervisors: Professor Sean Rigby (Faculty of Engineering)

Starting date: September 2017. This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged.

Funding: UK/EU students only. Fully paid tuition fees and full stipend at the RCUK rate (£14, 296 per annum for 2016/17). Some support available for limited conference attendance.

Length of studentship: 3.5 years. The successful applicant will be part of the Energy Research Accelerator at the University of Nottingham (http://www.era.ac.uk/)

Entry requirements: 1st class degree in Engineering, Physical or Earth Sciences, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

This project will concentrate on the modelling of fluid permeation through geological structures, in particular looking at the impact of complex void space heterogeneity over different length-scales on fluid flow rates. The project will involve novel pore space characterisation techniques for rock core samples, and the integration of well-logging data, to produce models of rock permeability distribution. These models will then be used to simulate complex fluid flows in the model void space. It is anticipated that the project will utilise rock core samples and logging data from the University of Nottingham’s own wells. The applications include modelling gas leakage from sequestered CO2 reservoirs or fracking sites.

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Microwave Assisted Catalytic Upgrading of Heavy Oil

Supervisors: Professor Sean Rigby (Faculty of Engineering)

Starting date: September 2017. This studentship is open until filled. Early application is strongly encouraged.

Funding: UK/EU students only. Fully paid tuition fees and full stipend at the RCUK rate (£14, 296 per annum for 2016/17). Some support available for limited conference attendance.

Length of studentship: 3.5 years. The successful applicant will be part of the Energy Research Accelerator at the University of Nottingham (http://www.era.ac.uk/)

Entry requirements: 1st class degree in Engineering, Physical or Earth Sciences, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

Heavy oil and bitumen deposits will provide energy security for the West, while conventional fuels are still needed. However, current extraction technology has a larger surface footprint and greater environmental impact than desired. These oils are also of lower grade than conventional resources. This project aims to improve the efficiency of heavy oil recovery by in-situ combustion, and develop the technology to build oil-upgrading plants underground where their environmental impact is minimised. This project will combine new catalytic technology with novel microwave processes to upgrade heavy oil as it enters the producer well still underground. The work will develop designer catalysts that are optimised for operation with microwave heating and under difficult reaction conditions underground. The project will also examine a range of options for boosting the natural oil upgrading that occurs with thermal extraction methods using a synergistic combination of industrial microwave technology and refined designs for the thermal processes. The project will potentially bring down the price of heavy oil extraction.

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Multiscale Methods for Hysteresis Effects in Geomechanics

Supervisors: Dr Donald Brown (School of Mathematical Sciences) and Dr Savvas Triantafyllou (Faculty of Engineering)

Starting Date: September 2017. Studentship will remain open untill it is filled
Based in the School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham

Funding: UK/EU students only. Fully paid tuition fees and full stipend at the RCUK rate. Some support available for limited conference attendance

Length of Studentship: 3 or 3.5 years dependent on qualifications and training needs of student

Entry Requirements: 1st class degree in Mathematics (or other highly mathematical field such as Physics or Engineering), preferably at MMath/MSc level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

This project will have considerable interaction with the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS). For those wishing to gain international experience a secondment in fluid-rock interactions in geomechanics to either Virginia Tech (Virginia, USA) or The China University of Mining and Technology (Xuzhou, China) may be possible.

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Efficient Techniques for Heterogeneous Non-Local Flow Models

Supervisors: Dr Donald Brown (School of Mathematical Sciences)

Starting Date: September 2017. Studentship will remain open untill it is filled
Based in the School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham

Funding: UK/EU students only. Fully paid tuition fees and full stipend at the RCUK rate. Some support available for limited conference attendance. 

Length of Studentship: 3 or 3.5 years dependent on qualifications and training needs of student

Entry Requirements: 1st class degree in Mathematics (or other highly mathematical field such as Engineering), preferably at MMath/MSc level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

This project will have considerable interaction with the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS).

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Ensuring sustainability of drinking water resources by optimising energy efficiency for desalination techniques

Supervisors: Professor John King (School of Mathematical Sciences), Dr. Veerle Vandeginste (School of Chemistry)

Starting date: Autumn 2017

Funding: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full tax-free Stipend of £14,296 per annum (2017/18 rate). While the scholarships may be held by students of all nationalities, the Leverhulme Trust has a particular interest in supporting UK or EU students. International students would be expected to cover the difference between international and UK/EU tuition fees (currently £11,387 per annum).

Length of studentship: 4 years (Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship)

The project aims to develop modelling approaches for optimization of the energy efficiency of desalination methods by using a whole systems approach. Current research focuses on the development on several aspects of a range of desalination techniques. Modelling of the expected economic outcomes and upscaling of techniques that are currently being developed will help to identify the most efficient and sustainable ways of desalination in future industrial scale applications. Data used in this study will be primarily based on published data sets and can involve cost analysis, production data from industrial scale desalination processes or experimental data from lab scale development of new methods (in particular those involving membrane efficiency and flow rates linked to pumping costs).

As will be clear from the description below of sustainability impacts, the area is rich with potential novel applications for mathematical modelling approaches.  The focus will be on deterministic (partial-differential-equation) formulations able to describe the processes of mass and heat transfer in question, with distillation, reverse osmosis and electrodialysis each raising its own modelling challenges.  That the student will need to address questions of upscaling and economic efficiency alongside the physics-based modelling will ensure he/she is equipped with an unusually broad and valuable skillset through the PhD programme.

Potential sustainability impacts:

Access to sustainable drinking water resources is a critical need for society. Due to the threatening impacts of climate change and a growing population, water management becomes ever more challenging, especially in low-land regions that will be flooded due to the sea level rise, resulting from melting ice caps. The most promising source for drinking water supplies is desalination, given 97% of water on Earth is saline. The main desalination technologies include distillation, reverse osmosis and electrodialysis. These methods require an energy source, either for heating (distillation), pumping (reverse osmosis), or for generating electric potential (electrodialysis). There is a pressing need for industrial scale development of cheaper and more environmentally friendly desalination methods. For example, membranes for reverse osmosis can be improved by designing very thin membranes which require less pressure for water to pass through but which have holes small enough to trap sodium and chloride ions: these include membranes of graphene, carbon nanotubes, or zeolites. 

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Mechanical modelling of the stability of Earth’s peatland carbon reservoirs

Supervisors: Jointly supervised between Engineering, Maths and Biosciences but primarily supervised by Dr David Large and Dr Bagus Muljadi in the Faculty of Engineering. Expertise in soils, peat and advanced mathematical techniques will be provided by secondary supervisors in Biosciences and Mathematics.

Starting Date: September 2017

Funding: UK/EU students only. Fully paid tuition fees and yax-free stipend at EPSRC rate of £14,553 per annum for the duration of the project 

Entry Requirements: The student must have a high-grade qualification; at least the equivalent of a UK 1st class degree in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a related discipline. The student must be proficient in both written and spoken English, and possess excellent presentation and communication skills.  Some experience computer programming is desirable.

This studentship is an excellent opportunity to become globally leading in the development of complex multiphase mechanical models of natural systems.

The project involves the development of mechanical models of peatland growth and restoration. Peat is a soft multiphase (solid, liquid, gas) material that stores 1/3 of Earths terrestrial carbon. Current models combine mass balance and hydrology but none consider the mechanical stability of the peat.  This is a huge oversight as the extremely weak multiphase peat body should deform with ease and this deformation must influence gas emissions and long term stability. The project will develop novel numerical models of peat growth and the mechanical response of peat to the changes in loading, mass balance and hydrology. The student will have the opportunity to visit peatlands in the UK and Malaysia and to link their work to geospatial observations. This is a truly interdisciplinary project combining supervision from Engineering, Maths and Biosciences.  As the focus is on the numerical modelling the student will be based in the Faculty of Engineering within the Geohazards and Earth Processes research group
Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr David Large tel: 0115 9514114 or Email: david.large@nottingham.ac.uk.

Applications, with a detailed CV and letter of application, together with the names and addresses of two referees, should be sent directly to Dr. David Large (david.large@nottingham.ac.uk

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GeoEnergy Research Centre

Email: enquiries@gerc.ac.uk