Multiphase flows in engineered porous media

Fully-funded PhD (awarded jointly by Coventry + Warwick)

Immiscible, two-phase flow in porous media is of importance to a variety of processes across scales, ranging from catalysis and microfluidics to water and pollutant transport in soils. Our understanding at the continuum (“Darcy”) scale is challenged by its multi-scale nature: the behaviour at the continuum scale is governed by the interplay between microscopic mechanisms such as capillary, viscous and gravitational forces, which is intimately linked to the underlying microstructural heterogeneity. While the continuum models used in academia and industry assume smoothly varied fractions of the fluid components with one phase being well-dispersed, in reality bubbles/droplets of the dispersed phase often merge into large entities whose changing shape/topology and interaction significantly affect the flow. By averaging over a representative elementary volume (REV) the continuum models miss out on important pore-scale mechanisms, which could lead to orders of magnitude errors in estimating fluxes and residence times. The emergence of preferential pathways also implies non-uniform transport of solutes.

This project concerns liquid-liquid and gas-liquid flows in porous media with the accent on statistics of the dispersed phase propagation and its impact on transport of nonreactive solute. To delineate the impact of medium heterogeneity, we consider various degrees of heterogeneity ranging from structured and homogeneous to randomly disordered to spatially-correlated heterogonous samples (e.g. patches or discontinuities). Experimentally, these will be manufactured using Additive Manufacturing (AM), exploiting the state-of-the-art facilities at both institutions. We will compare highly-controlled experiments in quasi-2D and 3D domains with highly-resolved numerical simulations.

This is a co-tutelle PhD studentship which provides the applicant a joint degree from Coventry University and the University of Warwick.
Supervisory team includes Dr. Soroush Abolfath and Dr. Petr Denissenko from the Fluid Dynamics and Multiscale Modelling group in Warwick's from School of Engineering.

We seek a highly-talented, motivated, and open-minded candidate, with background in fluid mechanics, physics, or a related discipline. Experience with laboratory experiments as well as computer simulations is highly desirable.

Start date: May 2021. Funding covers tuition, living expenses, and research-associated travel.

Courtesy of Dr.Denissenko