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Hydrodynamics of pollutant and organic carbon settling: implications for dispersal and concentration in oceans

Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics

Leeds United Kingdom Ecotoxicology Environmental Biology Environmental Engineering Fluid Mechanics

About the Project

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics is now recruiting to this fantastic PhD opportunity in partnership with Equinor.
As a student on the CDT you will participate in a four year programme that combines an integrated MSc (completed over the first two years) paired with a three year PhD-level research programme. This gives you a combination of bespoke taught modules and inter-disciplinary research training.

You will be part of a supportive cohort of research students with different academic backgrounds, all focusing on different aspects of Fluid Dynamics. During the taught aspects of your course, you will receive a range of tailored seminars, lectures and practical laboratories to cover the computational, experimental and analytical aspects of Fluid Dynamics. This provides you with a strong background to the fundamentals of Fluid Dynamics. In addition, you will have access to a wide range of personal development activities. Further information on the CDT is available here:

The PhD project: Hydrodynamics of pollutant and organic carbon settling: implications for dispersal and concentration in oceans.
Understanding the transport, deposition, and burial processes of anthropogenic pollutants and organic carbon, are major challenges. Burial efficiency of organic carbon depends on the exposure time to oxygen, which is tied to suspension settling rates that remain poorly constrained. Similarly, the hydrodynamics of microplastics, which range in shape and composition, have not been studied, and therefore the distribution of these particles in the marine environment is poorly understood. There is an urgent need to understand the hydrodynamics of low-density particles to inform the development of models that aim to forecast the dispersal and storage of these particles.

Because very little is known about the settling of low-density particles with complex morphologies, the student will design novel physical experiments using state-of-the-art settling tanks and particle imaging velocimetry (PIV) equipment in the Sorby Lab Suite using a proven experimental system. The physical experiments will inform direct numerical simulation (DNS) experiments, in which the Navier–Stokes equations are numerically solved without any turbulence model, to investigate dispersal patterns over longer timescales and greater spatial scales. You will be working closely with Equinor, and their Ocean Sustainability programme, with a long history of supporting research at Leeds.

You will be co-supervised by the School of Earth and Environment, School of Chemical and Process Engineering and Equinor, with lead supervisor Prof David Hodgson.

How to apply: Complete online application form (see naming the PhD project on the form
Entry requirements: A degree equivalent to a UK first class honours, or a high upper second class, in an engineering, mathematics or science discipline.
Queries: Please contact us on

Funding Notes

There are a number of highly competitive EPSRC Fully Funded Studentship Awards for Session 2021/22 covering the full cost of University of Leeds Fees plus Maintenance. Applications are open to both Home and International fee rated applicants, however the number of awards open for International applicants is limited by UKRI. Some additional places are also available for students who have their own funding.

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