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  PhD Studentship: Subsurface storage of hydrogen – impact of geomicrobial interactions

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr C van der Land  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Award summary

100% Home fees covered, and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of £18,622 (2023-24 UKRI rate).


Hydrogen is expected to become a key energy carrier in the future carbon free energy industry. To facilitate hydrogen supply at the required scale, it must be stored in porous media (subsurface geological formations) which offers the opportunity to balance discrepancies between demand and supply in the energy system. Hydrogen is an extremely labile/desirable energy source for microorganisms, and the impacts of microbial activity during dynamic H2 storage in the subsurface are not well described: the potential for microbially mediated H2 transformation; reactions between metabolic by-products and the caprock-reservoir or infrastructure; and the generation of biomass should be considered key operational risks during dynamic H2 storage. The intention of this project is to generate a combination of lab-derived and computer-modelled experimental data that will enable predictive, risk-based evaluations of microbial impacts on the operational integrity of subsurface H2 storage assets.

In this project we will consider the coupled effect of microbial activity and geochemistry with regards to biofilm formation and mineral reactions in the reservoir and at the reservoir-caprock interface. We will investigate the key microbial metabolisms active during dynamic H2 storage and the boundary conditions driving or limiting their respective activity; the impacts of community dynamics and competitive interactions in mixed microbial communities; which species or metabolisms are likely to have the greatest impact on H2 consumption and the generation of geochemically reactive metabolic products. We will identify the impact of key geochemical and microbial reactions and interactions relevant for an integrated predictive approach, incorporating reactive transport and reservoir modelling so that reservoir integrity and performance can be assessed.

Number of awards


Start date

September 2024

Award duration

4 years

Application closing date

17th March 2024


EPSRC Industrial Case Studentship

Name of supervisor/s

Cees van der Land, Mark Ireland, Ian Head, Nicole Williamson (BP)

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in a subject relevant to the proposed PhD project (inc.(geo)microbiology and  (geo)chemistry). Enthusiasm for research, the ability to think and work independently, excellent analytical skills and strong verbal and written communication skills are also essential requirements.

The studentship covers fees at the Home rate (UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status and meet the residency criteria).

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.  

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:  

·      search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8314F

·      Leave the ‘Research Area’ field blank

·      select PhD Geoscience (full time) as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Details’ section:  

·      a ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form  

·      the studentship code SNES285 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field  

·      when prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert – and provide your own statement. 

In the ‘Supporting Documentation’ section please upload:  

·      your CV   

Contact Details

[Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Geology (18)

 About the Project