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PhD Studentship: Potential environmental impacts of shallow aquifer geothermal systems in urban areas

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: EU Students, International Students, Self-funded Students, UK Students
Funding amount: Up to £15,609 annual living allowance, plus £20,000 individual allowance to cover costs associated with the PhD
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th December 2021
Closes: 31st January 2022
Reference: 8314F

Overview

Heating and cooling of buildings in the UK currently depend on carbon-intensive technologies, and account for 37% of the UK’s carbon footprint. Shifts towards more carbon-neutral technologies, such as the use of shallow geothermal energy sources, have proven to be an effective means of decarbonising the heating and cooling of the built environment. However, the wider environmental impacts and potential trade-offs of these emerging technologies are still poorly understood.

Changes in soil and subsurface temperature regimes could critically alter key biogeochemical processes such as evapotranspiration, carbon sequestration, pollutant biodegradation, surface chemical reactions and mineral weathering. Research so far has focused on the impacts of geothermal energy use on groundwater temperatures or bioavailability of redox-sensitive elements (e.g. arsenic); less is known about the impacts on biogeochemical processes in soil or the vadose zone. Improving understanding of how temperature perturbations will alter subsurface processes is critical for understanding the overall environmental impact of geothermal energy use, given the acknowledged importance of soils as a carbon sink or locus for pollutant removal.

This project will investigate the impact of geothermal energy use on subsurface temperatures and how this influences biogeochemical processes in different aquifer types. This will combine data from existing water abstraction wells and onshore oil and gas wells, together with experimental work in the laboratory and field. Modelling of heat perturbations will link the experimental and observational work. The project will develop a process-based understanding of how temperature perturbations, arising from geothermal energy use, influence biogeochemical systems. Understanding the benefits and trade-offs of shallow geothermal systems in urban settings could become increasingly important as the UK evaluates the opportunity to expand the implementation of shallow geothermal systems to meet its energy needs.

Start Date

September 2022

Award Duration

4 years

Application Closing Date

31 January 2022

Sponsor

GeoNetZero CDT

Supervisors

Professor Yit Arn Teh

Dr Cees van der Land

Dr Ross Stirling

Professor David Manning 

Eligibility Criteria

2:1 Bachelor Honours Degree or MSc in Earth Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Physical Geography, Microbiology (Environmental), Environmental Science or other allied discipline

We welcome applications from UK, EU and International students, however this studentship only covers tuition fees at the Home rate. Applicants with International fee status will therefore be required to provide the difference between Home and International fees.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create an account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8314F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Geoscience’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code GEON101 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code GEON101 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Contact Details

YitArn.Teh@newcastle.ac.uk

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