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Macroscopic capillary pressure in multi-phase porous media flows

   School of Engineering

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Although multi-phase flow in porous media is an established research field for decades, its theoretical background is still being developed. Recent advances include a new macroscopic theory of capillarity based on the volume averaging method. The theory includes a new derivation of the macroscopic momentum balance equation for the wetting/non-wetting fluid interfaces, and the associated new definition of the macroscopic capillary pressure. The main benefit of the new theory is that it incorporates the effect of the average direction of pores on the resulting capillary force, which is neglected in conventional numerical simulation models. In order to apply the new theory a new set of constitutive relationships needs to be developed.

This aim of this PhD project is to establish the relationship between the macroscopic capillary pressure and relevant geometrical properties of fluids within the pores, for a series of porous media typical for reservoir rocks. This will be done through an extensive experimental or computational programme which will involve imbibition/drainage experiments with water and air as wetting and non-wetting fluid. Experiments will start with idealised regular pore geometry, followed by the pore configuration typical for natural porous media such as soils and aquifers. The outcome of the project will be novel relationships that need to be built into numerical simulation models of macroscopic multi-phase flows in porous media.

The successful candidate will join the Fluid Mechanics Research Group in the School of Engineering: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/engineering/research/environmental-industrial-fluid-mechanics-122.php . Members of the Group use different combinations of laboratory experiments, field measurements, numerical simulations, and theoretical analysis to study physical processes associated with a wide range of applications, including groundwater remediation, geological CO2 storage, and coastal erosion.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in engineering or physical science discipline.

Knowledge of fluid mechanics, familiarity with MATLAB, previous laboratory experience.


Formal applications can be completed online: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgap/login.php

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Prof D Pokrajac () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website


Starnoni, M., Pokrajac, D. (2020) On the macroscopic momentum balance equation for the fluid-fluid interfaces in two-phase porous media flows, Advances in Water Resources 135, Article number 103487.
Y Tanino, A Ibekwe, D Pokrajac (2020) Impact of grain roughness on residual nonwetting phase cluster size distribution in packed columns of uniform spheres, Physical Review E 102(1) https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.102.013109

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