Advanced methods for shale characterisation

Shale gas has been recently recognised as a strategic energy source with the potential to revolutionise the worldwide energy layout and bridge the transition to a low-carbon future. Understanding the gas storage and transport mechanisms is essential to evaluate the real potential of the shale formations, predict the production rate and optimise the production strategies towards more efficient and environmentally-safer extraction processes. The complexity of the shale formations makes conventional methodologies not suitable for accurate characterisation.

Aim and programme of research:  The project will be carried out at the University of Edinburgh and is focused on the development of experimental methods and mathematical models for the full characterisation of different shale formations. Shales are complex matrices characterised by heterogeneous and hierarchically organised pore structure. The aim of this project is to develop adsorption based experimental methodologies to gain full understanding of the textural properties, the storage capacity and the gas transport mechanisms at the solid matrix scale of different UK and US shale types.

Shale and kerogen samples (provided by different Oil and Gas companies) extracted in different locations (UK and US) and at different stages of maturity will be systematically tested and compared.

The main technique used for the characterisation of the transport properties of the sample will be the Zero Length Column (ZLC). Tailored equilibrium and kinetics tests at different conditions will be complemented by standard characterisation techniques.

Measurements of storage capacity and transport properties at high pressure will be carried using a newly developed high pressure volumetric apparatus capable of achieving pressures up to 250 bar.

Closing Date: 

Sunday, February 10, 2019
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Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a first class degree or upper second (or equivalent for non-UK students) or a combination of qualification and professional experience equivalent to that level in Chemical Engineering.

Some knowledge and experience in at least one among these fields will be particularly beneficial:

  • Adsorption equilibrium and kinetics
  • Transport phenomena
  • Programming language

Independent work, self-motivation, good team spirit and excellent communication skills are important assets of the successful candidate.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


The contract is 42 months in duration with an annual salary in the first year of £16,160, updated in the subsequent years according to inflation. The salary includes annual tuition fees (at UK/EU rate). There is no mobility allowance.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: