PhD Studentship - Stabilising CO2: Multiphase flow in heterogeneous porous media

University of Cambridge - Department of Earth Sciences

Geological carbon storage involves the injection and storage of CO2 underground in geological formations and offers one of the more economical and practical methods for society to manage its transition to a low-carbon economy. A key aspect of geological carbon storage is the need to ensure that the storage is safe and efficient. This requires the ability to model the fate of the CO2 over an ~10 000 year storage period. Key mechanisms which will increase the security of CO2 storage are residual trapping, where some CO2 is retained in pore space by surface tension, and solubility trapping in which CO2 dissolves in formation brines. The rate at which both these mechanisms operate is strongly controlled by the small and medium scale (10 cm to 100's m) heterogeneities in the permeability and surface properties of porous rocks.

Heterogeneities within porous aquifers are present at a wide range of scales and may enhance the dissolution and capillary trapping of buoyant CO2 due to increased mixing, or alternatively limit the contact area through flow focusing towards high permeability pathways. Analogue fluid systems, which mimic the the effects of capillary forces in porous media or the dissolution of CO2 will be used to study the mixing in laboratory systems at the meter scale with centimetre scale heterogeneities. The results of the laboratory experiments will be used to inform numerical and mathematical models of mixing in layered strata. The laboratory and mathematical models of heterogeneity will be informed by geological models of potential North Sea storage aquifers.

The project will suit a quantitative geoscientist, physicist, engineer, or applied mathematician who enjoys combining theory and experiment tied closely to an important geological or industrial issue.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

This studentship is available to start on either 1 Jan 2017, 1 April 2017 or 1 Oct 2017. Applications submitted for a 1 Jan start will be reviewed in mid-November 2016 but if the position is unfilled other applications will be considered later for a start in April or Oct 2017.

Informal enquiries should be made in the first instance to Dr Jerome NeufeldĀ  Prof. Mike Bickle

Please quote reference LB10380 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University and the Department are committed to equality and diversity, the University holds an institutional Athena-SWAN silver award and the department is a bronze award holder.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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South East England