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KESS 2 Scholarship: The geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of heat production and biofouling in mine water geothermal energy recovery.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, November 15, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Low enthalpy geothermal heat recovery and storage in abandoned flooded coal mines is an area of increasing interest as we move towards decarbonised heating and energy systems in both domestic and industrial settings. Heat generating reactions between water and minerals is often mediated by and accelerated due to microbial activity in surface mine waste, but little is known about subsurface processes of heat production. At the same time, microbial activity can cause biofouling of deployed heat recovery systems. We are looking for a highly motivated student to investigate heat generating biogeochemical reactions and biofouling in subsurface mine water settings.
The project aims to provide the first assessment of the role of microbiology on mine water geothermal energy production and will investigate these mechanisms in the South Wales Coalfield where there are a number of mine water geothermal schemes in development. The British Geological Survey (BGS) as industrial partners for this work are major stakeholders in the development of mine water geothermal in the UK.

Specifically the project will:

1. Provide fundamental understanding of the biogeochemical mechanisms of heat production
2. Determine the mechanisms and potential role of biofouling in heat recovery systems.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 BSc or equivalent qualification, and preferably an MSc in one of the following areas; microbiology, geochemistry and earth sciences, environmental science, environmental engineering. The specific direction of the project will depend on the students background and interests, but the student will be trained in a range of relevant methods including water-rock interaction experiments, geochemical analysis of waters, molecular microbiology and microbial culturing. This is a collaborative project between Aberystwyth University, Cardiff University and BGS and will involve travel and potential secondments to each of these institutions.

How to Apply

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 15th November 2019:
1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from
2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AUE10002 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.
3. A supporting personal statement of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.
Quote Reference AUE10002

Funding Notes

Value of Award: A stipend of £14,483 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. Tuition fees are waived for this scholarship.

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