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Surfactants Design for Enhancing BP Shale Oil Production

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


The Department of Chemical Engineering at University College London (UCL) is among the leading research-intensive departments across the world. It hosts over 24 academics whose research is collaborative, ground-breaking and focused on solving societal problems.
Within the Molecular and Engineering Thermodynamics group, the Chemical Engineering Department is seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated post-graduate student to research how to reduce the environmental impact of the energy sector. The post-holder will collaborate with BP, and their research team at the International Centre for Business & Technology (ICBT) at Sunbury.
Understanding of classical thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, molecular simulations are desired, but not essential, as it will be developed during the project. The post-holder will have the opportunity of sharing results and ideas with several industrial partners.
The post is fully funded (stipend and fees) for 3.5 years.


The focus of this studentship is the energy sector, and in particular the production of hydrocarbons from BP’s shale formations in North America. Potentially, the results of the research could identify processes that increase the production of oil while decreasing the environmental burden of the operation. While the scope of the studentship is practical and will lead to solving a societal challenge (producing affordable energy while reducing the environmental footprint), the research is exquisitely fundamental.
The basic fundamental question to be addressed concerns how fluids diffuse within the narrow pores found within shale formations, in particular in the presence of chemical additives. The project will start by a quantification of hydrocarbon loading in realistic models for shale formations.

The successful candidate will be trained to conduct computational research, specifically using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations, and to interpret experimental results. The techniques are transferable to other technological problems among various sectors, including the cosmetics, catalysis, and food industries. The post holder will closely interact with BP.
This studentship is an iCASE studentship, fully funded for 3.5 years. The post holder will present the research results at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journal articles.


The successful candidate will have completed a first-class degree at the MEng or MSc level in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Sciences, Physics or related disciplines.
The successful candidate is a dedicated student, preferably with advanced understanding of thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and research methods.
Willingness to perform independently, yet within a collaborative environment, within a world-class competitive and highly demanding environment are a must.
Demonstrable prior knowledge of research methods and molecular simulations approaches are desirable, but not necessary requirements.

Funding Notes

Stipend: £17,432 per annum + UK fees
Duration of Studentship: 3.5 years
Start date: The successful candidate is expected to start on 01/09/2020

Funds are only available to cover UK fees.
EU students who have been in the UK for 4 years will also be considered.

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