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European Geosciences Union

PhD position in pore scale imaging and modelling of mudrocks

PhD position in pore scale imaging and modelling of mudrocks

Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Relevant division
Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

Scholarships will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £14,700 for the 36 month duration of the project.

Required education

Application deadline
2 February 2018

6 January 2018

Job description


BP Energy Outlook forecasts that shale gas will account for 24% of the global gas production in 2035. Utilising them requires a step-change in understanding gas migration, accumulation and reserve/resource calculations, and to better inform environmental concerns and reduce production costs.

The understanding of the pore system and related fluid flow across scales is still a major issue for integrating flow properties into reservoir engineering concepts. Specifically, the different flow processes (diffusion, slip flow, Darcy flow) occurring in gas shales are difficult to predict. This is because very small pores (<10 nm) are difficult to resolve using imaging techniques and measurements to determine diffusion coefficients are technically challenging. Slip flow through the larger pores however is sourced by diffusional transport from the storage pores and is therefore required as input when predicting the long term performance of a shale gas reservoir.

In order to bridge this gap, we aim at combining a variety of methods for an integrated assessment of flow in such materials:

  • Small scale (d<~2nm): Low pressure sorption (CO2, N2) and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) to determine surface area, pore size distribution and effective diffusion (via fractals); high pressure gas adsorption to determine gas storage capacity
  • Intermediate scale (d>~2nm<10µm): Focused Ion Beam SEM in combination with SANS and N2 sorption to characterise pore structure; permeability tests on sample plugs
  • Large scale (d>10µm): Fracture hydraulic conductivity measurements and nano/µCT scanning on sample plugs

Pore-scale gas flow will be simulated on shale pore-network models that are constructed from characterisations to be obtained from FIB images and small angle scattering/gas adsorption measurements to perform mechanistic modelling with respect to pore geometry and topology, and fluid transport mechanisms. The results can then be used to interpret laboratory flow measurements by numerical inversion on X-ray tomograms of small shale sample plugs.

This studentship will be supervised by Dr. Andreas Busch (Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University), Jingsheng Ma (Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University) and Lin Ma (X-ray imaging facility, University of Manchester).

Informal enquiries should be directed to the primary supervisor, Dr Andreas Busch, at

Application is through the Heriot-Watt website only and information is provided here: