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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PhD funding on subsurface fires. Earth and Natural Sciences

A PhD studentship to study peat fires between University College Dublin and University of Edinburgh is available to a student of any nationality. We are most interested in engineers, physicists and chemists with a background on thermal sciences, some experience in laboratory work and an interest on Earth sciences. See below a brief description. For information and application, see PhD Programme in Earth and Natural Sciences at UCS.

Project BIO 3: Characterising the dynamics and environmental impact of subsurface
peat fires by controlled experiments

Principal Investigator: Dr Jon Yearsley (UCD) –
Collaborators: Claire Belcher (University of Edinburg); Guillermo Rein (University of Edinburg)

Fire is an increasing global threat to the carbon store and ecosystem services provided by peatlands (they contain 1/3 of terrestrial carbon). Peatland wildfires are extreme events that are becoming more frequent both in Ireland and internationally. Smouldering peat produces 5‐40% of annual global carbon emissions, but these are presently not accounted for by the IPCC7. They threaten the environment (e.g. habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions) and human health (e.g. air quality), but our understanding of these smouldering fires is poor compared to flaming fires. The core of the project will study sub‐surface peatland fire behaviour by performing experimental peat burns for a range environmental conditions. The student will develop the experimental protocol at the Centre for Fire Safety Engineering (University of Edinburgh) and then installed at UCD for the majority of the experimental manipulations. This project combines fire dynamics and Earth systems research and builds upon an existing collaboration between UCD and University of Edinburgh. The work has relevance to climate change mitigation/adaptation, managing peatland carbon stores against the risk of sub‐surface fires and the fundamental science of smouldering fire. We are looking for an outstanding student with interest in undertaking experimental research on the interface between fire dynamics, Earth systems and ecological modelling.
There is one PhD Studentship associated with this Project and will be based at UCD

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Combustion technology for the remediation of soil contaminants

The next IIE Seminar is on Thursday April 21 at 1 pm, AGB seminar room 3rd floor. Pizza will be served at 12.45pm.

"Self-Sustaining Smouldering Combustion for the Remediation of Organic Industrial Liquids in Soil"


Jason I. Gerhard (
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Self-sustaining smoldering combustion is an innovative approach for clean-up of sites contaminated with liquid waste from industrial processes. This approach offers significant potential for the destruction of highly recalcitrant compounds, such as coal tar and petroleum hydrocarbons, for which clean-up options are currently limited and very costly.

Smoldering is the flameless combustion of a liquid or solid fuel that derives heat from surface oxidation reactions; smoldering of charcoal in a barbeque is a typical example. This research, pioneered at University of Edinburgh, was the first to demonstrate that liquid tar in soil may be effectively destroyed via smoldering. Further research has revealed that the process has the unique properties of being self-sustaining, self-targeting, and self-terminating, all of which may make it uniquely cost efficient and technically effective.

This presentation will illustrate the scientific principles behind this remediation concept, and summarize the six years of research that has been conducted to date. The results of experiments from proof-of-concept to the first in situ field pilot study will be presented. This research represents an ongoing collaboration between University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde, and University of Western Ontario. The technology has been licensed to SiREM, who is developing the technology under the name Self-Sustaining Treatment for Active Remediation (STAR).

Short Bio
Dr. Jason Gerhard has over 15 years of experience leading experiments and modelling for investigating organic industrial contaminants in the subsurface and their remediation. He graduated with an honours B.Sc. (Eng.) in Geological Engineering in 1993 and an M.Sc. (1995) and Ph.D. (2002) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). From 2002, he was a Lecturer in Environmental Engineering at University of Edinburgh. Since 2007, Dr. Gerhard holds the Canada Research Chair in Geoenvironmental Restoration at The University of Western Ontario (London, Canada) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At Western, Dr. Gerhard is co-director of the RESTORE Group (Research for Subsurface Transport and Remediation) with more than 20 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, 4 laboratories, and 3 field research programs.