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Environmentally Safe Operation of Pipelines via the Use of Surface-Active Compounds

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, November 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description


The Department of Chemical Engineering at University College London (UCL) is among the leading research-intensive departments across the world. It hosts over 24 academics whose research is collaborative, ground-breaking and focused on solving societal problems.
Within the Molecular and Engineering Thermodynamics group, the Chemical Engineering Department is seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated post-graduate student to research how to reduce the environmental impact of the energy sector. The post-holder will collaborate with a leading company operating in the energy sector, as well as with prominent research groups within UCL, in North America, and elsewhere.
Understanding of classical thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, molecular simulations are desired, but not essential, as it will be developed during the project. The post-holder will have the opportunity of sharing results and ideas with several industrial partners.
The post is fully funded (stipend and fees) for 4.0 years and is available as of February 2020.


The focus of this studentship is oil and gas transportation in pipelines, although the results are also applicable to CO2 storage. The practical problem is the potential formation of hydrates. Such hydrates are solid compounds that can block the pipeline, leading to negative environmental, safety, and economical consequences. We seek to operate the pipelines safely. Potentially, the results of the research could identify surface-active compounds that enable this goal, in collaboration with our industrial partner. While the scope of the studentship is practical and will lead to solving a societal challenge, the research is exquisitely fundamental.

The fundamental question to be addressed concerns the identification of the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the performance of chemicals currently used in the industry. The project will start from a comparison of the results achieved by the post-holder against experimental data obtained by our international collaborators.

The successful candidate will be trained to conduct computational research, specifically using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations, and to interpret experimental results. The techniques are transferable to other technological problems among various sectors, including the cosmetics and food industries. The post holder will have the opportunity to interact with several industrial collaborators among different sectors and in different countries.

This studentship is an international collaboration, fully funded for 4.0 years. The post holder will present the research results at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journal articles.


The successful candidate will have completed a first-class degree at the MEng or MSc level in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Sciences, Physics or related disciplines.
The successful candidate is a dedicated student, preferably with advanced understanding of thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and research methods.
Willingness to perform independently, yet within a collaborative environment, within a world-class competitive and highly demanding environment are a must.
Demonstrable prior knowledge of research methods and molecular simulations approaches are desirable, but not necessary requirements.

Funding Notes


First-class degree at the MEng or MSc level is required.
Funds are available to cover EU/UK fees.
Overseas students will be considered but might be required to cover the difference between Overseas and EU/UK fees.

Duration of Studentship: 4 years
Stipend: £17,000 per annum

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