Our PhD opportunities are listed below. Please note to be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter
The above residency requirements will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.
Minimal surfaces in porous materials: wettability design for optimal flow performance (ESE)
Supervisors: Prof Martin Blunt; Dr Branko Bijeljic, Department of Earth Science and Engineering; Prof Jerry Heng, Department of Chemical Engineering.
Home Department: Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London (South Kensington Campus)
Funding and Deadline: To be eligible for support, applicants must be “UK Residents” as defined by the EPSRC1. The studentship is for 3.5 years starting in October 2022 and will provide full coverage of standard tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £17,609. Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a First-Class Honours or a high 2:1 degree at Master’s level (or equivalent) in any relevant engineering or science subject. Funding is through the project InFUSE (Interface with the future: underpinning science to support the energy transition), funded by the EPSRC and Shell.
Project summary: Minimal surfaces with zero total curvature are found naturally in emulsions, soap films and holly leaves; they have been a subject of mathematical and scientific fascination for centuries. Topologically, phases on either side of the surface are well-connected. Porous media whose internal surface is a minimal surface ensure good connectivity of both the pore space and the solid skeleton and have been used to manufacture artificial bone (the solid is strong, while the pore space allows blood vessels to grow and perfuse the structure) and catalysis.
Recent research has Imperial has discovered that minimal surfaces exist between two fluid phases within mixed-wet porous rocks. This was associated with efficient fluid displacement and recovery. We have also seen minimal surfaces between gas and water in fibrous gas diffusion layers (used in fuel cells) with a mix of hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces, which again explains their favourable performance.
In this PhD project, you will explore the conditions under which minimal surfaces form in multiphase flow, apply this to a variety of natural and manufactured systems, including rocks, soils and fibrous materials, and, finally, propose a design of the structure and wetting properties of the solid (controlled by surface chemistry) to optimize multiphase flow for a range of applications, from agriculture to electrochemical devices. There is the opportunity to transform the design and performance of a wide range of devices, including fuel cells, electrolysers and catalysis, as well as provide insight into efficient fertiliser dispersal in agriculture.
You will apply lab-based and synchrotron multi-scale X-ray imaging to determine pore structure and multiphase fluid configurations, including accurate measurements of interfacial curvature. This will be complemented by sub-micron imaging at a synchrotron to explore surface properties and wettability. You will study both fluid configurations using time-resolved imaging and chemical changes in designed materials where a mixed-wet state is controlled through wettability changes on displacement. This will be complemented by direct finite element simulation of multiphase flow at the micron to mm scale. You will work in a large active research group working on various aspects of flow in porous media. You will be expected to publish your work in the open literature.
Informal enquiries about the post and the application process can be made to Prof. Martin Blunt by including a motivation letter and CV. For further information on the research group with recent papers and presentations visit the Earth Science and Engineering website.
Check if you are eligible for student funding from the UKRI.
Understanding the type, distribution and mechanical properties of interfaces in geological systems (MT)
Supervisors: Prof Finn Giuliani; Dr Katharina Marquart, Department of Materials; Dr Sam Krevor, Department of Earth Science and Engineering
Home Department: Department of Materials at Imperial College London (South Kensington Campus)
Funding and Deadline: To be eligible for support, applicants must be “UK Residents” as defined by the EPSRC1. The studentship is for 3.5 years starting in October 2022 and will provide full coverage of standard tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £17,609. Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a First-Class Honours or a high 2:1 degree at Master’s level (or equivalent) in Materials Engineering, another branch of engineering or a related science. Funding is through the project InFUSE (Interface with the future: underpinning science to support the energy transition), funded by the EPSRC and Shell.
Project summary: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) provides a very promising solution to sequester current CO2 production and allow critical process that are difficult to decarbonise to continue running into the future. Understanding the suitability of different rock types for CCS requires a detailed knowledge of among other things their mechanical properties both before and after CO2 injection. The mechanical properties of brittle materials are governed by their ability to dissipate energy which is often controlled by the properties of their interfaces. For example, weak interfaces can promote crack deflection and crack bridging mechanisms giving increased performance. These mechanisms have been studied and optimised in many structural ceramic systems however, in geological materials less work has been carried out.
In this project we propose to both measure the distribution of interfaces and interface categories within different rock types and measure the mechanical the properties of individual key interfaces. In this project you will develop skills in micromechanics, high resolution electron microscopy included EBSD and synchrotron techniques at the Diamond Light Source, the UKs national synchrotron facility. This is a key partner in the project and will support the design of novel environments to study samples under operando conditions. This would give unique insight into the microstructure of candidate rock types. This could then potentially be extended to include samples that have been exposed to supercritical CO2. This could be particularly important in basalt rocks with their ability to mineralize CO2. This allows to cracks to fill with newly formed carbonates and silicates on relatively short timescales (~1-2 years). Yet the whole process of reaction driven cracking is not well understood. This is either regarded as beneficial for safety, by preventing leakage, or as detrimental as mineralization may seal fluid paths and thus reduce permeability. It should also be noted that these research techniques are quite general and a secondary program could be applied to completely different brittle material systems, such as the build-up of damage in battery materials leading to performance degradation.
Informal enquiries about the post and the application process can be made to Prof Finn Giuliani by including a motivation letter and CV.
Our Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) positions are listed below. PDRA posts will be recruited at various intervals over the next 5 years, at both Diamond and Imperial College London.
Research Associate in Multidisciplinary Modelling of Materials and Engineering Interfaces
Applications are invited for two Research Associates to join the multidisciplinary project InFUSEwhose aim is to study the evolution of material and fluid interfaces across a range of diverse application areas with direct impact on the energy transition. The post will be based at Imperial College London with significant interaction with the project partners Diamond Light Source and Shell.
The aim of this post is to create a step-change in the development of interconnected multiphysicsand multiscale modelling strategies to improve the design of interfaces that are critical for the development of new disruptive technology in the energy sector. The focus will be on capturing the key physical, morphological, phase and chemical changes associated with fluid-solid interactions in different applications and environments. There will be a strong link with the interpretation and modelling of observations from operando, multi-technique synchrotron-based experimentation. These approaches promise deeper insight into industrial systems and processes – including application to the next generation lubricants and fluids (e-fluids), geomaterials (for CO2 and H2 storage), and energy materials (catalysis, batteries, materials for hydrogen).
Duties and responsibilities
- You will develop new algorithms using state-of-the-art physics-based models across the scales alongside machine learning techniques to predict transport of chemical species, chemical reactions, phase transformations and film formation induced by mechanical loading in a range of environments involving fluid-solid(and fluid-fluid) interfaces.
- You will also apply theory and numerical methods for interpretation of the complex data sets generated through experimentation performed across the InFUSE programme.
Please review the Job Description for the full list of duties and requirements.
- A PhD in a relevant discipline or equivalent research, industrial or commercial experience is required for appointment at Associate level.
- You will have practical experience in a broad range of theoretical studies, numerical modelling and computational techniques, specifically for the modelling of complex physical and chemical systems and for the analysis and interpretation of large data sets.
- You must have proven subject knowledge of the research areas associated with the programme.
This is a fixed term position for up to 24 months in the first instance.
Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as a Research Assistant within the salary range £38,194 - £41,388 per annum.
Queries relating to the position should be directed to Professor Daniele Dini, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This position is eligible for a hybrid working structure, with a minimum of 3 days per week on site
Research Associate in CO2 Reduction
Across the range of proposed technological strategies for CO2 reduction - either at source or via post-combustion mitigation - limitations in efficiency, stability or lifetime are associated with the role of key material interfaces in the systems, and their evolution in the operating environments. Such examples can be taken from a range of systems, from carbon capture and subsurface storage, through interfaces in new electric vehicles to...
Job listing information
- Reference ENG02526
- Date posted 17 March 2023
- Closing date 14 April 2023
Across the range of proposed technological strategies for CO2 reduction - either at source or via post-combustion mitigation - limitations in efficiency, stability or lifetime are associated with the role of key material interfaces in the systems, and their evolution in the operating environments. Such examples can be taken from a range of systems, from carbon capture and subsurface storage, through interfaces in new electric vehicles to nanoscale materials for catalysts or energy recovery.
The purpose of this post will be to use either or both experimental and numerical modelling techniques to investigate physical processes occurring at spatial scales from .01 – 1 mm (e.g., in the pores of rocks, at mineral fluid interfaces) underpinning the permanent storage of CO2in geological materials. These processes include the fluid dynamics of CO2flow and trapping in the pores of rocks, the reaction rates and limitations to CO2mineralisation, the dissolution of CO2into brine confined within the pores of rocks. There is significant flexibility within this scope for the ultimate definition of the specific problems investigated, and this is left to be tailored to your interests and background.
This post is a part of a 5-year EPSRC funded Prosperity Partnership between Imperial, Diamond and Shell, which aims to increase our fundamental understanding of interface behaviours through a cross-cutting approach studying morphology, structure and chemistry from the atomic to the macroscale, and their dynamic evolution under a range of extreme operational parameters.
You will be a part of the Subsurface CO2Research Group in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London, led by Dr Samuel Krevor. As a part of the InFUSE and Shell Digital Rocks projects, the researcher will be a part of a large cohort of 20-30 researchers between the departments of Earth Science & Engineering, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.
Duties and responsibilities
- Lead research investigating the physical processes occurring at spatial scales from .01 – 1 mm (e.g., in the pores of rocks, at mineral-fluid interfaces) underpinning the permanent storage of CO2in geological materials.
- Prepare and deliver presentations at the annual meetings of the INFUSE project, as well as ad-hoc meetings that occur throughout the year
- Support basic administrative tasks for the Subsurface CO2 Research group such as the chairing of weekly research group meetings and support the organisation of twice per year social and team-building events
- Publish work in peer reviewed journals and present at academic conferences
You should have completed or be about to obtain a PhD, or equivalent, in Earth Science, Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Applied Mathematics or a closely related discipline, or have equivalent research, industrial or commercial experience.
You should have skills in computational modelling or experimental research in subsurface fluid flow, or fluid-rock mineral reactions, or fluid dynamics, or related fields.
A full list of essential requirements can be found on the Job Description
This is a full time, fixed term position for 2 years. You will be based at South Kensington Campus.
You will be working in the Subsurface CO2Research Group in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London, led by Dr Samuel Krevor. As a part of the InFUSE and Shell Digital Rocks projects, the you will also be a part of a large cohort of 20-30 researchers between the departments of Earth Science & Engineering, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. There are weekly and bimonthly seminars and meetings amongst these cohorts ensuring that you are working in a collaborative team environment with many opportunities to participate in research across the university.
The Department of Earth Science & Engineering is a friendly and nurturing department that combines teaching and research in Earth Sciences with related Engineering disciplines. The topics we are interested in reach from blue sky Earth Science (e.g. Earth interior, surface, and its place within the solar system), to integration with related subsurface energy, environmental, mining and minerals Engineering. Overall we employ ~50 academic staff members, ~70 postdoctoral research scientists, ~170 PhD students, ~145 MSc students, and ~300 undergraduate students.
Informal inquiries about the position can be made to Dr Samuel Krevor (email@example.com).