PhD vacancy: Experimental Investigations of Dynamic Multiphase Flow Processes Using 3D Printed Micromodels


The study of multiphase flow processes for applications in natural porous media (e.g.  groundwater extraction, hydrocarbon production, geothermal energy, subsurface energy and CO2 storage) is complicated by both:

  1. the lack of a clear fundamental understanding of the physical and chemical processes underlying the transport phenomena;
  2. the uncertainties in the pore network/geometries in the porous media, which hinder both, prediction of the flow behaviour and the development of physically more accurate transport models.

Advancements in additive manufacturing technologies provide opportunities for studying the various transport problems in multiphase systems independent of porous media uncertainties.  At the pore scale, which is profoundly important for processes such as oil displacement in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and CO2 storage in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), precise micromodels can be 3D printed to enable experimental studies with designed flow paths in a repeatable fashion.  With sufficient technology development, this could evolve into experiments involving 3D printed cores in full knowledge and control of the pore geometries.

In this project, various multiphase processes including, but not restricted too, injection of surfactant, polymer or CO2 will be visualised and compared with predictions, and deviations from predictions can aid the development of a better understanding which in turn will be used to improve predictive tools.  The impact of parameters such as injection velocity, viscosity and wettability (i.e. contact angle between two fluids interface and the surface of the material) and how they control multiphase flow regimes (e.g. viscous and capillary fingering, pore-body filling, post finger coating) will be investigated. Control of wettability may be possible using the 3D printing technology itself, through changing the printing material, its roughness, or through surface coating. The far-reaching aim of this project is to open the door to the development of fully predictive Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models of pore-scale multiphase flow.

This is a cutting-edge research conducted in the world-renowned Carbonate Reservoir Group at Heriot-Watt University.  It will involve interactions with other leading research groups around the world, and direct contact and feedback from the industry.  Various opportunities will be available to the successful applicant to inform their research through interactions with the experts in this area.  The successful applicant will also be offered the opportunity to communicate their research in international conferences and with the public through outreach programmes.


This is a full scholarship which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of £14,777.


This scholarship is available to UK and EU candidates.  The successful applicant will have:

  • A degree in a relevant area (preferably chemical engineering, petroleum engineering, geology or physics), with a demonstrated record of excellence.
  • A fundamental understanding of how wettability affects flow in multiphase systems.
  • A solid understanding of the experimental techniques involved in wettability measurement and control, preferably with demonstrated experience.
  • Experience in performing experiments of flow through porous media in single and multiphase systems.
  • Knowledge of micromodels and awareness of the research in this area.
  • Knowledge of reservoir and CFD modelling software and the theory involved.
  • An excellent team player, and the ability to collaborate with a diverse group of colleagues and professionals.
  • Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Time planning and project management skills with a demonstrated record of reliability.
  • The ability to devise and to conceive innovative solutions to complex practical problems.
  • An appreciation for health and safety practices and their importance in a laboratory environment.

Desirable skills of relevance to the project include:

  • Experience in using visualisation cells/micromodels.
  • A background in 3D printing/additive manufacturing, and experience with 3D drawings.
  • An ability to use geochemical and CFD modelling software, e.g. PHREEQC, CMG STARS, COMSOL, OpenFOAM, ANSYS Fluent.
  • Experience in Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM) and X-Ray Computed Tomography.

How to apply

To apply you must complete our online application form.
Please select PhD programme Petroleum Engineering and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor on your application form. You will also need to provide a CV, a supporting statement, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and an academic reference. Please contact Professor Sebastian Geiger ( for informal information.


The closing date for applications is 13 July 2018 and applicants must be available to start the PhD in October 2018.