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Raindrops, pesticides, and ink – droplet interactions with porous surfaces

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P D Hicks
    Dr Y Tanino
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Droplet interactions with porous surfaces play a crucial role in many important physical processes including the spraying of plant leaves with pesticides, the infiltration of rain and surface water into soil and the migration of oil in doubly permeable porous media, while a greater understanding of these processes will potentially lead to improved strategies for remediation for chemical contaminants and oil spills, and also flood mitigation.

This project will develop theoretical and numerical models linking the evolution of a sessile droplet on a porous surface with subsurface flow dynamics of liquid from the droplet. A Stokes flow boundary element description of the free surface of a droplet initially resting on a porous surface will be coupled to flow models of the partially and fully saturated regions within the porous media beneath. The novel use of a Stokes flow boundary element method in this coupled configuration will enable the free-surface evolution to be calculated for a wide range of initial contact angles corresponding to both wetting and non-wetting fluids. The coupled dynamics will inform the relationship between different subsurface fluid flow models, relative permeabilities, and the evolution in droplet shape as it is absorbed. The inverse problem of determining properties of the porous medium from the droplet behaviour will also be considered, with the aim of determining whether readily measured droplet properties on the surface can by use as proxies for sub-surface flow characteristics.

In the first year of the PhD, numerical methods will be developed for idealized two-dimensional geometries. In later years these methods will be extended to axisymmetric and three-dimensional cases. The possibility to experimentally validate the modelling predictions may be available.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science or Chemistry. Knowledge of Fluid dynamics and experience of computational methods and continuum modelling is also beneficial.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Application Process:

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr P Hicks ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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