PhD Studentship: Forced Convection Heat Transfer in Unconventional Geothermal Systems: Numerical Investigation of Complex Flow Processes near Magmatic Chambers

Cranfield University

Start Date: 6th February 2017

Duration of award: 3 years  


Dr Patrick Verdin – Senior Research Fellow in Computational Fluid Dynamics
Prof Gioia Falcone – Head of Oil & Gas Engineering Centre

Sponsored by EPSRC, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £ 15,171 p.a. (tax free) plus fees* for three years

Recent research into frontier Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) has highlighted the need to better understand the associated heat exchange and fluid dynamics to converge between unconventional well designs and the definition of where their performance would be best. Whilst convection and mixing within magma chambers and hydrothermal circulation in natural groundwater systems have been extensively investigated, there is limited understanding of the heat transfer from magma to water, the behaviour of supercritical/superheated fluids and the convective forces triggered by stimulation and artificial injection near magmatic chambers. Convective heat transport is further modified by multiphase flow phenomena induced by phase change.

Beginning with the fundamental differences between conduction- vs. convention-dominated geothermal systems, this PhD research will focus on the steady-state and transient heat transfer processes and fluid dynamics associated with free and forced convection near magmatic chambers.

Different scenarios will be defined considering the various deep geothermal solutions that have already been implemented or proposed in the literature. Numerical tools will be used to reproduce the settings from different volcano sites, where relevant parameters will be extracted from the literature available in the public domain. This includes:

  • TOUGH2, a multi-dimensional numerical code for simulating the coupled transport of water, vapour, non-condensable gas and heat in porous and fractured media.
  • Local refinements of the TOUGH2 models (e.g. at the scale of an individual fracture, or for the wellbore-reservoir interface) will be further investigated with ANSYS FLUENT for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling.

The outcome of this PhD will contribute to re-evaluating the geothermal resource base worldwide and aims to improve the current understanding of heat transfer from magma to water under a combination of free and forced convection.

The student will be based at Cranfield University within the Energy & Power theme of the School of Water, Energy and Environment. He/she will have access to the latest computing facilities offered by Cranfield University.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as mathematics or engineering. The ideal candidate should possess good understanding of heat transfer and fluid dynamics and be fluent in analytical and numerical modelling and methods. He/she will have good communication and presentation skills and an ability to conduct research within a multidisciplinary and multicultural team.


* To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK or EU nationals. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions.

How to apply:

For further information please contact: Dr Patrick Verdin, E:, T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 5214

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form

For further information contact us today:

School of Water, Energy and Environment
T: 44 (0)1234 758008

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