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New cleaning and waste management technologies in offshore energy installations - National Decommissioning Centre

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Vega-Maza
    Dr C Fernandez-Martin
    Dr W Afzal
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A transition to a sustainable energy system calls for reducing waste, hazards, environmental and economic impacts. This project aims at developing new knowledge-based cleaning and waste management technologies that will contribute to that goal. It will be based on the fundamental science underpinning the stability and properties of slurries containing hydrocarbons, scales and heavy metals.
Management of hazardous substances and the long term liability associated with the presence of unexpected pollutants pose a serious challenge during the life cycle of every offshore energy project. In the context of decommissioning, ‘Making safe’ activities, including cleaning, venting and purging, isolation, and waste management, together with topside preparation and onshore disposal, remediation and monitoring, account for circa 9% of the total cost.

Solid hydrocarbon deposits in pipelines and facilities form a matrix of waxes and asphaltenes, becoming nucleation sites for scales precipitation and trapping pollutants such as PAH and mercury. Those scales are also a source of radioactivity (NORM). The sludge at the bottom of tanks and slurries during flushing contain hazardous substances as mentioned above. Colloidal theory offers a tool to understand these processes, of paramount importance to tackle the cleaning and disposal of waste during operations and decommissioning.

Experiments (density, rheology, phase behaviour, interfacial tension, interfacial rheology and viscoelasticity, analytical chemistry, imaging techniques) and models will be investigated to optimise the cleaning method, waste treatment and disposal route of those complex mixtures.

The successful student will benefit from being part of a new and exciting decommissioning research centre working in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, along with other PhD students, industry and academics among others. NDC includes state-of-the-art engineering laboratories and hangar space for the design and development of decommissioning technology, as well as a suite of environmental commercial testing facilities. At the heart of the Centre is the Decommissioning Immersive Collaborative Environment (DICE), a high-tech digital visualisation suite.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain a UK Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, physics, environmental engineering.

Essential background and Knowledge: Experimental thermodynamics
Organic and inorganic chemistry

Students will have the opportunity to study elements of the MSc in Decommissioning see to gain a broader understanding and knowledge.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Decommissioning
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘National Decommissioning Centre’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 22 August 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• CV
• 2 References (Academic, where possible - we will not be contacting referees)

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr D Vega-Maza ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

The start date of the project is 1 October 2019.

Funding Notes

Home Tuition Fees and stipend at Research Council rates for 3.5 years.

International candidates can apply if they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition fees from their own resources. If you have recently been in receipt of sponsorship, please check their conditions about further study before applying as they may have limitations.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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