PhD position: Development of Ultra High Capacity Tensiometers (Northumbria University)

Project Description (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/MCE/MENDES):
The proposed research aims to develop Ultra High Capacity Tensiometers (UHCT) that can measure soil suctions in the range of 7-10MPa with the intent of overcoming existing limitations with high capacity tensiometers (HCT).

HCTs are sensors used in geotechnical engineering to monitor positive and negative porewater pressures (soil suction) in soil infrastructures and to study unsaturated soils in the laboratory. HCTs are normally composed of a ceramic filter with an air entry value (AEV), pressure transducer and water reservoir encased in a protective sheath. The measuring range of HCTs is dependent on the AEV of the ceramic filter, more precisely, on the largest pore within the ceramic filter. HCTs are currently able to measure/monitor soil suctions up to 2MPa. The major limitation of current HCTs is cavitation, which occurs as a result of tension breakdown within the water reservoir when water is under tension at the maximum measuring range. Cavitation can also occur at lower values than the maximum measuring range when used in prolonged monitoring in-situ. While cavitation cannot be avoided, it is believed that by increasing the measuring range, cavitation can be delayed and, hence, prolong the monitoring capability of HCTs. Furthermore, by increasing the measuring range of HCTs, detailed studies on the water retention behaviour of unsaturated soils becomes possible.

Therefore, for the development of UHCTs, new ceramic filters with specific characteristics are require to be developed. UHCTs built with the new ceramics will then be assessed in relation to measuring range and long-term measurement with the intent to develop future proof soil suction monitoring systems and for comprehensive studies of the water retention behaviour in unsaturated soils.

Applicants with degrees in Civil Engineering, Materials Science/Engineering, or a related subject are encouraged to apply. Knowledge of fundamental soil mechanics and geotechnical laboratory and field experience is highly desirable.

The principal supervisor for this project is Joao Mendes.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form: website

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/EE/MCE/MENDES) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community, we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.
Funding Notes
The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).

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