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Evaluation, optimisation and design of energy piles


   College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

  Dr M Mehravar  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The concept of net zero energy building (NZEB) aims to design and construct buildings with less energy consumption and low carbon emission. Over the past 10-15 years, integrating heat exchanger pipes in geo-structures for space cooling and heating of buildings has received increasing attentions. This environmentally friendly technology can be applied to all types of soil-embedded structures such as diaphragm walls, tunnels, shallow foundations, and piles. Among all these types of geo-structures, the energy pile remains the most common application for the ground heat exchange process. Many studies have been carried out to assess the performance of energy piles using experimental tests, analytical methods, and numerical modelling. However, design and installation of energy piles remains a challenging and complex process due to the interaction between the activated piles and ground (thermo-hydro-mechanical). This study aims to investigate the thermo-hydro-mechanical interaction between energy piles and ground using finite element analysis to accurately predict the complex performance of energy piles, expands knowledge on their evaluation criteria and key parameters, and provides design recommendations. A fully coupled model will be developed to accurately simulate the behaviour of the system and capture complex interrelationships of the contributing parameters. Additionally, this study attempts to develop a framework to optimise the design of energy piles considering thermal, mechanical, economic and environmental perspectives. In the optimisation process a wide range of variables will be considered these include (but not limited) to the number and geometry of heat exchanger pipes, the mass flow rate, the thermal conductivity of grouting material as well as ground, the inlet fluid temperature, the pile diameter and length, the number of energy piles and the distance between the piles. Both short- and long-term impacts of various designs on the ground, as heat resource, will be considered. The outcome of this PhD research can serve as a design guidance to improve uptake and increase efficiency of energy piles in buildings ultimately leading to decarbonisation of heating and cooling in buildings.

 Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Master’s degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) in Civil/Geotechnical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mining, Physics or  Applied Mathematics. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of Finite element analysis (COMSOL Multi-physics), Optimization techniques, Multi-phase modelling including thermo-hydro-mechanical modelling, Geotechnical engineering.

Submitting an application

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

  • A copy of your current CV
  • Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree; this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English
  • A research proposal statement*
  • Two academic references
  • Proof of your English Language proficiency

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor name, project title, and project reference in your Personal Statement.


Funding Notes

There is no financial support available from Aston University for this position. Applicants should either be confident they can cover the costs from their own resources or be applying for an external scholarship. As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or secured, this additional funding.
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