PhD opportunity Bots in Rocks: Development of novel multi-sensor devices for real-time monitoring of reservoir rock behaviour

School of Engineering
Supervisor: Professor Rebecca Cheung

Bots in Rocks will design and develop both a new in-rock sensor technology and an innovative deformation tracking sensor system. The development will increase quality and quantity of descriptors for quantification of petroleum reservoir rock deformation and of fluid flow responses significantly; both are crucial to inform efficient and economic hydrocarbon reservoir production. These advances apply equally to subsurface carbon storage. Current experimental capabilities produce sparse or low resolution, typically post-test data that is difficult, expensive and time consuming to obtain.

Work to be undertaken: This research project has two distinct themes:

  1. In terms of in-situ sensing, “Bots in Rocks” will develop intelligent nanoparticles that are tailored to react to their immediate local environment, thereby, providing data on fluid flow and pore fluid conditions. The “bots” will be used in the laboratory under realistic subsurface conditions.
  2. Analysis of the entire rock sample in real-time, an initial concept relates to an innovative radar based sensor to track rock deformation. A tuneable radar system could enable the detection of defects of varying size, and through signal processing techniques, will be able to track crack propagations and deformation zone localisations. Individually and collectively, the two sensor developments will provide access to new and previously inaccessible data, significantly increasing data density, data quality and experimental throughput. This data will directly (for rocks studied) and indirectly (through better scientific knowledge) upgrade the basic building blocks of hydrocarbon reservoir management. The increased knowledge gained from Bots in Rocks will allow improved design and placement of injection and production wells, and decrease the risk of over or under design of surface facilities. This will in turn improve both productivity and recovery factors and thereby represents a potentially transformational opportunity for the oil and gas industry.

Further info:

For informal enquiries please contact Professor Rebecca Cheung:

Funding Notes:

FULLY FUNDED POSITION – OPEN TO UK/EU ONLY. Funding will cover University fees (at UK/EU rate), plus a stipend for 3.5 years.

Deadline for applications: Open all year

Minimum entry qualification – an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Physics and/or Micro and Nanosystems. Experience of sensors, electronics and signal processing would be highly advantageous for this post. The student is not expected to have any prior knowledge of Petroleum Geology or Petroleum Engineering; this knowledge and training will be provided.

To apply, please click Apply below and select Research Area: Integrated Micro & Nano Systems.

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