Ocean wave

The suspension, and sedimentation, of variable buoyancy microplastic particles




3 years

Application deadline:

Friday 20 March 2020

About this project

Microplastics particles, ranging from micron to millimetre in size, pose a significant risk to natural ecosystems and habitats. However, despite the potential ecological impacts from microplastics pollution, the ability to accurately predict microplastic transport by environmental flows (e.g. in rivers, estuaries and coastal currents) is limited. 

Our limited understanding of microplastic transport arises due to the varying buoyancy of different microplastics, and the complexity of turbulent environmental flows. Lower-density plastics, prone to floating, are concentrated in fastest-flowing water; whereas higher-density plastics, prone to sinking, are transported more slowly. However, with densities similar to that of water microplastic suspension is sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, e.g. varying salinity, temperature and suspended sediment concentration. 

The PhD will investigate the mechanics of suspension, and sedimentation, of microplastic particles in different flow conditions. Applied to large-scale models, research into particle suspension and sedimentation will enable prediction of the transport, fate, and impact of microplastics in real-world environments. The PhD will work, and collaborate, with other students as part of a new microplastics research cluster at the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull.

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain the slavery.

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This is a funded scholarship over a three year period. The funding you receive will cover the fees for your PhD programme and also an annual maintenance grant at the level of UKRI (£15,009 in 2019), depending on satisfactory progress.

There is an optional writing up period if you need to complete your thesis after the three year period of your research degree, for which there is a small charge. Your maintenance grant will not cover you during this optional writing up period.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a First class Bachelors, or 2:1 Masters or higher degree in mathematics, physics, engineering or a related field. 

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