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Raindrops, pesticides, and oil spills – droplet interactions with porous and textured surfaces

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P D Hicks
    Dr Y Tanino
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Droplet interactions with porous and textured 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 both the evolution of a sessile droplet on a porous surface with flow in the subsurface and also of a sessile droplet spreading on a textured surface. 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 be used 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. Experience of computational methods and continuum modelling is also beneficial.

Funding Notes

This project is for self-funded students only. There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to pay Tuition Fees and living expenses, from their own resources, for the duration of study.



This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Engineering. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE YOU WISH TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 2 projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

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]).

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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