Projects

Please note that the PhD projects listed are examples of projects offered to current CDT students and as such are not generally available to prospective students.

This is a unique opportunity to work closely with Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, to develop microfluidic tools for use on high energy beams used to probe material characteristics. A carefully designed programme of work will see the successful applicant developing ‘fluidic environments’ where the material of interest is contained within a fluid…
Computational scientists are typically not expert programmers and thus have to work with easy to use programming languages.  However, they have very high-performance requirements due to their experimental setup and large datasets and have to rely on parallel computing machines for tasks like simulation runs. Unfortunately, the increasing specialisation and complexity in computing hardware have…
This project will address an open problem regarding the locomotion of biological swimmers, a problem of widespread importance throughout the animal kingdom. While many fish swim in water, many biological swimmers locomote through complex, non-Newtonian fluids, often characterized as viscoelastic (such as gels) or viscoplastic (such as mud). In fact, biological swimmers naturally adapt their gait, depending…
This project will investigate the use of deep learning techniques, coupled with more conventional numerical modelling approaches, in order to develop new computational algorithms for fluid flow problems. The goal is to enhance traditional “black box” machine learning with physical knowledge of the flow, as described through conservation laws (such as mass, momentum, etc.), in order to improve the performance of…
Droplet coalescence is a crucial feature of many industrial and natural processes. The focus here is on exciting emerging applications such as reactive inkjet printing. These applications often involve the coalescence of droplets composed of complex fluids (including surfactants, suspensions, reactive species etc) with different material composition and properties. Essential to the success of such approaches is sufficient mixing of the combining…
Microfluidic devices are promising to revolutionise the biomedical industry from rapid disease diagnostics and modelling to high-throughput drug screening and assessment. Much of the engineering of these next generation devices is done through experimental approaches and analysis. However, there is considerable scope to develop, apply and analyse new mathematical models of microfluidic devices at a fundamental level. These open challenges include the fluid–dynamical control of the delivery and sorting of particles in channels at low-Reynolds number, the effects of magnetic fields on particle…
Nature and industry abound with examples of highly porous, fibrous materials embedded in a viscous fluid. Examples include the cellular cytoskeleton, scaffolds for tissue engineering, and medical filters, to name just a few. Recent simulations have demonstrated that the coupling between the solid (fibre) phase and the fluid can produce unexpected behaviour that could be exploited for industrial applications, and may have already…
Coronary artery plaque build-up which can lead to heart attack is mainly caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in blood stream.  In addition to the concentration of LDL cholesterol, hydrodynamics of blood as well as stiffness of coronary arteries wall can have significant influence on the deposition and build-up of plaques. In this project, a combined discrete-continuum approach based on fully coupled DEM-CFD simulation will be used to…
Bioaerosols, invisible tiny droplets less than 10 microns in diameter, are an important mechanism for disease transmission, as demonstrated by the current coronavirus pandemic. However, there is much we don’t understand about the fluid dynamics of how these droplets are formed and how they behave on emission at the mouth. These droplets are not much larger than the disease microbes they carry, so the concentration of microbes in these…
Tumour blood supply and interstitial flow play essential roles in tumour growth, invasion, and response to treatments like chemotherapy. This project is motivated by a need for better understanding of the mechanisms underpinning these roles, so that this knowledge can be used in conjunction with imaging measurements to discover better indicators of early response to treatment (Fig 1). Such indicators are vital for monitoring and optimising individualised treatments; treatments that don’t…
Cartilage is comprised of microscopic fibres immersed in synovial fluid that is expelled under load, thereby increasing the load carrying capacity and reducing friction in natural joints. This remarkable property has been historically modelled at Leeds using the continuum equations of poroelasticity. However, the selection of relevant terms and coefficients in these equations is rarely justified     microscopically due to the disparity in scales between pores and the material. Predictive modelling is therefore at best semi-empirical, which limits the development of novel products and treatments related…
The movement of Earth’s liquid core is responsible for generating our planetary magnetic field, yet we know very little about its structure and dynamics because direct observation is not possible.   Recent high-resolution satellite data have enabled the identification of a jet-stream at high-latitude within the core. This jet may play an important role in the…
Omissions in our current understanding of the fundamental behaviour of fluid flow in porous media and its interaction with impermeable barriers such as earthquake faults systems, means that aquifer systems are often analysed in complex models to try to characterise the behaviour of these systems.  This project will develop and solve new mathematical models able…
This project aims to develop and optimise the experimental set-up used to measure the kinetics of a chemical reaction.  Using computational fluid dynamics the properties of a supersonic molecular flow through a Laval nozzle will be studied.  Being able to manipulate a uniform supersonic molecular flow in a known and controllable way offers unique advantages to the cold chemistry community, especially in the…
The two images above show large-scale flows structures in the polar regions of Jupiter (L) and Saturn (R). These arise from the interaction between convection and rotation in the stratified outer regions of the planets – regions in which physical properties such as viscosity vary strongly with position. This project will investigate a simplified model…
Convection within Earth’s fluid core generates the planetary magnetic field; spatial and temporal variations of the geomagnetic field can thus be used to gain insight into the dynamics of this otherwise inaccessible region. Seismic, geomagnetic, and geodynamic observations indicate that lateral variations in heat flow are imposed on the core at the top, and possibly…
The discovery of several thousand planets orbiting stars other than the Sun is the most exciting development in modern astrophysics. Many orbit their stars very closely in a few Earth days, and the gravitational tidal interactions between these planets and their stars deform the planet (and star) into an ellipsoidal shape and excite internal tidal…
This project involves the investigation of the mechanisms that lead to reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field. As shown in the figure below, the polarity of the Earth’s field reverses rarely, making modelling difficult. In this project we use the latest advances in “rare event” modelling to construct descriptions of the processes that lead to these rare events….
Convection-driven flows influenced by rotation are ubiquitous in planetary interiors, including the liquid cores of terrestrial bodies, the outer regions of gas giants and the convective regions of cool stars. These flows generate global-scale magnetic fields that can be observed remotely and hence provide unique insight into otherwise inaccessible regions of planets and stars. However,…
This project will contribute to the development of a revolutionary new cloud model, MPIC (Moist Parcel-In-Cell), for the simulation of convective precipitation and cloud-climate feedbacks. The model takes a new, Lagrangian approach to the simulation of clouds and precipitation. The work builds on a collaboration between David Dritschel (University of St Andrews), EPCC, Leeds and the Met Office and involves…
This project aims to develop new models to simulate the risk of airborne infection in healthcare environments and the effectiveness of control strategies. Airborne infection is a serious concern for respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and influenza and opportunist pathogens in hospitals. Quantifying risks enables appropriate control strategies, both in terms of engineering approaches such as ventilation,…
Rivers in Greenland are responding to some of the most rapid and extreme climate change on Earth. Rapidly rising air temperatures in the arctic are causing accelerated ice sheet and mountain glacier melt and permafrost thaw. This melt and thaw is not only generating meltwater but also releasing sediment, which fundamentally affects river geomorphology and…
Understanding the effect of airflow in enclosed/indoor environments is of great interest due to its close relationship to occupant’s safety, thermal comfort, and energy efficiency. Optimally placed air conditioning could increase the comfort of the inhabitants. In hospitals, airflow can distribute germs and can pose a significant health hazard. Indoor airflow patterns can be very complicated, and computer simulations are an invaluable tool for understanding their characteristics during the initial design phase when designers can explore various design scenarios, which take into account multiple constraints (infection…
Understanding the effect of airflow in enclosed/indoor environments is of great interest due to its close relationship to occupant’s health, thermal comfort, and energy efficiency. Optimally designed ventilation could result in increased comfort and reduced health risk of the occupants. Airflow indoors can distribute pathogen-laden aerosols and can pose a significant health hazard. Furthermore, indoor airflow…
The Wetropolis flood demonstrator [1] is a portable set-up designed to provide the general public a visualisation of what a return period is for extreme rainfall and flooding events. In general, people have difficulty comprehending what it means when a flood is classified as a 1 in 100 year flood. It means that, on average, a flood…
Controlled fusion seeks to harness the power of the Sun on Earth. The aim is to confine hot plasma in a toroidal device known as a tokamak so that fusion reactions can occur and the process can become self-sustaining.  However, various plasma phenomena cause instabilities and confinement losses. The stability problem is most severe at the plasma edge, causing hot, dense…
In collaboration with Airbus (Defence & Space) and ESDU, this project will develop a new sensing capability that will be tested in a wind tunnel and on-board Airbus’s Zephyr S High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) aircraft. Stratospheric clear air turbulence is caused by atmospheric gravity waves, and is of interest to both meteorological and aeronautical applications. Since Zephyr operates at very low Reynolds number the wing has extensive laminar…
Have you ever felt uncomfortable or suffocated in crowds in a shopping mall? Do you know how fast an airborne contagious disease can spread in the atrium of a hospital? The indoor air quality is crucial and sometimes life-threateningly important. Being able to understand and predict airflows in enclosed environments not only lowers physical dangers in…
Hyperloop is a newly proposed mode of transportation where vehicles move within a tube held at vacuum-type conditions at speeds of up to 1200km/h.  Currently, the most well-known embodiment of Hyperloop is that proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, and presents a step-change in transport engineering, allowing people to move vast distances in short periods of time.  However, the…
Our ability to confidently predict the safety of a nuclear waste repository depends on our ability to correctly model the interaction of fluids residing in the host rock surrounding the repository and the potential for fluid flow to bring radionuclei from the repository to the biosphere. The most commonly applied simulations of fluid in heterogeneous geological porous media are quite simplistic usually described by Darcy’s law. This is a good approximation for viscous flow conditions…
Droplets are a fascinating and challenging area of fluid dynamics. Their interactions with each other, with surfaces, films and particles, are important to numerous natural and industrial processes, from atmospheric aerosols to additive manufacturing, and even have relevance for transmission of infectious diseases!  Yet, whilst they have received much academic attention in the past, the…
Various micro/nano-patterned superhydrophobic surfaces have proved effective in significantly reducing the frictional loss on solid boundaries, thanks to providing stable Cassie wetting conditions in which only a fraction of the fluid experiences the no-slip boundary condition. This project focuses on experimental characterisation of laminar flow drag reduction on natural superhydrophobic surfaces found in insect wings….
Battery tends to be unstable and catches the fire easily when overheating occurs. The common reasons causing overheating are internal/external short circuit, mechanical deformation and impact, unevenly charging and discharging, and exposure to high temperature environment. Therefore, battery thermal management is of paramount importance to battery safety. The effective battery management must work through the whole battery…
Future advanced military aircraft engineers face an appreciable technical challenge to design Thermal Management System (TMS) of adequate capacity within the available space. Heat Exchangers (HE) of TMS are the largest components and are designed to meet the maximum heat duty, experienced only during a fraction of flight cycle and resulting in over-sized system for the…
The design of hydraulic infrastructure and in particular reservoir spillways is an area of significant importance from a safety and economic perspective (consider recent failure incidents at Toddbook, UK 2019 and Oroville, US 2017). There is a large and costly programme of work to upgrade existing infrastructure to ensure resilience in the face of changing climate and increasing extreme…
Fluid-solid multiphase flows in environmental systems repeatedly develop similar landform patterns – understanding why is a fundamental challenge. Modelling of such flows is complicated by the range of scales between those controlling turbulent suspension of particulate material and the size of the systems themselves (e.g., the modern Hikurangi Channel, offshore New Zealand). In this PhD, the student will directly address these issues…
There is currently 18GW of offshore wind energy installed in Europe. To achieve the European Commission’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, an estimated increase to 400-450 GW is required. The requirements of high wind resource, and restrictions of planning permission, water depth and marine conservation mean that Offshore development will likely be clustered in certain geographical…
Understanding the transport, deposition, and burial processes of anthropogenic pollutants (e.g. micro– and nanoplastics), and organic carbon, are major challenges to predicting marine pollution hotspots and quantifying blue carbon stocks. Burial of particulate terrestrial organic carbon in marine sediments removes CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps to regulating climate over geologic time scales. Spatial and temporal variability in deposition means that quantification of these blue…
The project will combine accurate experimental work in a brand new laboratory with modelling using the state-of-the-art finite element software. The newly equipped lab will form part of UKAEA’s new £50M CHIMERA facility designed to test components for fusion energy devices under high heat fluxes. The student will have opportunities to do fundamental research and measurement in convective heat transfer, to conduct…
Impinging jets are used in a wide range of process engineering applications; such as tunnelling operations, paint spraying and cavitation drilling. Liquid jets are also used as a method to estimate sediment strength in natural environment studies, e.g. to predict attrition in reservoir outlets or measure long term bed-slip in estuaries. Related is the use of jets as mixers to mobilise and homogenise sediment beds….
COVID-19 has raised numerous questions around how infrastructure contributes to the risk of infection.  Sanitation is a known risk for a number of infections (e.g. diarrheal diseases) and there is potentially a link with COVID-19. Transmission risk may result from aerosolisation of pathogens from toilets which then pose a direct inhalation/ingestion risk or a risk via contaminated surfaces. Studies have measured microoganisms in air…