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The transport of plastics and alien particles under waves

   School of Engineering

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

While substantial fundamental research has been conducted in recent decades on sediment transport under waves,, little is known about the behaviour of alien particles dispersed within a sand bed mobilised by waves. By “alien” we mean particles that differ from the native sand bed in terms of size, density or shape. They include, for example, plastics, heavy minerals, contaminated particles and sediment markers used to track sediment transport pathways. The aim of the PhD research project is to develop a practical model for predicting the behaviour and transport of these particles under waves in coastal environments. It will build on substantial previous research at the University of Aberdeen on sediment transport processes and developing better predictive models for use in coastal engineering practice. The project will comprise experimental and analytical study. The experiments will be conducted in the Aberdeen Oscillatory Flow Tunnel. This is a large experimental facility in which oscillatory flows equivalent to those occurring at the seabed under large waves can be generated. For the proposed PhD, a systematic set of experiments will be conducted to examine the behaviour and transport of alien particles of different type within a sand bed. The experimental results will be used to develop a practical model for predicting the likely fate of the different particle types under different wave conditions.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain, a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in engineering or related discipline that includes fluid mechanics.

Knowledge of sea wave mechanics, coastal hydraulics, sediment transport and laboratory measurements would be beneficial but is not essential.


Formal applications can be completed online: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgap/login.php

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor

• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding

• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)

• Detailed CV, Personal Statement/Motivation Letter and Intended source of funding

Informal inquiries can be made to Prof T o' Donoghue () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

Funding Notes

This PhD project has no funding attached and is therefore available to students (UK/International) who are able to seek their own funding or sponsorship. Supervisors will not be able to respond to requests to source funding. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website


O’Donoghue,T. and Wright, S. (2004), Flow tunnel measurements of velocities and sand flux in oscillatory sheet flow for well-sorted and graded sands, Coastal Engineering, 51, 1163-1184.
O’Donoghue,T. and Wright, S. (2004), Concentrations in oscillatory sheet flow for well sorted and graded sands, Coastal Engineering, 50, 117-138.
Van der A, D., O’Donoghue, T. and Ribberink, J.S. (2010). Measurements of sheet flow transport in acceleration-skewed oscillatory flow and comparison with practical formulations, Coastal Engineering, 57 (3), 331-342.
Van der A, D., O’Donoghue, T., Davies, A.G. and J.S. Ribberink (2011). Experimental Study of Turbulent Boundary Layer in Acceleration-Skewed Oscillatory Flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, vol 684, 251-283.
Van der A, D., Ribberink, J.S., van der Werf, J.J., O’Donoghue, T., Buijsrogge, R.H., Kranenburg, W.M. (2013). Practical sand transport formula for non-breaking waves and currents. Coastal Engineering, 76, 26-42.

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