Postgraduate research opportunities Clean Energy - Understanding hydrate formation in porous rock for enhanced geothermal energy


Key facts

  • Opens: Friday 8 September 2023
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 4 years


An enhanced geothermal system (EGS) is a renewable energy technology that extracts energy from a naturally occurring heat source. EGS technology injects a fluid under high pressure, typically water, down into rock subsurface, fracturing the rock and enabling access to the thermal reservoir. One of the challenges in this technology is mineral precipitation. This project aims to understand how the precipitation (nucleation) of these minerals occurs in different rock types.
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First or upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate MSc/MEng/MChem in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering/Materials Science/Environmental Engineering. We are looking for a highly motivated person to undertake multi-disciplinary research.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Nucleation experiments will be used to measure crystal growth rates and the effects of crystal growth inhibitors on blocking rock pores. Techniques used will include a high-throughput nucleation setup, spectroscopy (Raman or Infra-Red) and X-ray diffraction for analyzing the crystals formed. In addition, simulations can provide molecular-level insight into the formation of hydrates at the nanometer-scale that is not accessible by experiment. Classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations will be used to predict the structure of the aqueous solution near the rock interface.  The solution structures will be analyzed to obtain concentration profiles, order parameters, etc. and their variation near the interface. This insight will provide understanding about why nucleation differs in different rock types and enhance geothermal energy production. The student will have access to the high performance Archie-WeSt supercomputer and will gain expertise in using a Linux environment, and MD software, such as LAMMPS. The student will be based in the Faculty of Engineering, one of the largest and most successful engineering faculties in the UK, and the largest in Scotland.

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Funding details

There is no funding attached to this project and the successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project-specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.

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Dr Hamilton
Dr Andrea Hamilton

Senior Lecturer
Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Number of places: 1

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Civil and Environmental Engineering

Programme: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

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Contact us

For further details contact Dr Andrea Hamilton,