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PhD position: modelling of hydraulic fracturing


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Wednesday 05 July 2023
Reference:  ENG1658

The Albertini Lab at the University of Nottingham has an opening for a PhD student (home or international) in modelling hydraulic fracturing. The position is fully funded on a competitive basis with starting date 2023/2024.

Project background

We conduct research at the interface between mechanics, materials and scientific computing. The centre of our interests is on dynamic fracture, friction, earthquake source mechanics and granular material mechanics. We aim to provide a fundamental understanding of multi-scale and multi-physical mechanics of engineering and geophysical materials and develop predictive numerical tools for mechanical failure of materials and structures.

Hydraulic fracture is a key technology enabling unconventional oil and gas recovery. However, it has a notoriously bad reputation for its environmental impact and for the risk of inducing earthquakes. Hydraulic fracture also plays a crucial role for the development of sustainable energy resources and decarbonisation. (1) Hydraulic fracture is used in enhanced geothermal systems to increase permeability of bedrock; (2) Hydraulic fracture could unintentionally occur during CO2 sequestration and storage in porous geological formations leading to CO2 leakage. A better understanding of the fundamental mechanics governing hydraulic fracturing is needed to enable the energy transition and meet Net Zero goal by 2050.

Job Description

This position is part of a joint project between the Geo-Energy Research Centre and the Composites Research Group and focuses on understanding the propagation of fracture due to applied fluid pressure. This PhD position will focus on the modelling of the fluid fracture interaction. The objective is to develop a coupled numerical model of dynamic fracture propagation in three dimension that accounts for the complex fluid-fracture interaction. This model will provide fundamental understanding on how fracture initiates, propagates, and arrests. The numerical results will be compared to experimental data from our collaborators at Harvard University and used to uncover the fundamental mechanisms governing hydraulic fracture.

Your Profile

  • You hold a Master degree in mechanical, civil or structural engineering, material science, physics or a related discipline and have a background in solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, applied mathematics, computational science or a related field.
  • Additionally, you have prior programming experience and are fluent in English (oral and written)
  • You show enthusiasm for conducting original research in an interdisciplinary and international team, and you strive for scientific excellence.

The University of Nottingham is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

We value diversity

The University of Nottingham encourages an inclusive culture. Visit our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • a CV
  • an academic transcript
  • copy of your master thesis
  • a brief statement describing your project idea relevant to the job description, making a connection to your experience in this area and the related work from the literature
  • the names and contact details of two references

How to apply?

Please send the application material directly to

Questions regarding the position should also be directed to the above email.

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