1. Vacatures
  2. Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD)
  3. PhD Position Near Borehole Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Processes for Geothermal Energy

PhD Position Near Borehole Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Processes for Geothermal Energy

Given the challenges in geothermal operations and the ambitious expansion plans for geothermal energy in many countries, there is an urgent need for experts with a broad understanding of geothermal systems. How can such systems be operated in the most efficient and safe manner? Within the ITN EASYGO, funded by the European Commission, the IDEA League universities TU Delft (TUD), ETH Zurich (ETH), RWTH Aachen University (RWTH), Politec- nico di Milano (PoliMi) and 10 industry partners are addressing this question from different perspectives, integrating geology, geophysics, geochemistry, advanced modeling and process engineering. In this framework, EASYGO is looking forward to train tomorrow’s leading geothermal energy experts.
EASYGO is seeking 13 highly qualified and enthusiastic individuals holding a relevant Master degree (or equivalent) to conduct state-of-the-art rese- arch within the projects specified below. Please find additional information on EASYGO as well as detailed project descriptions here and do not hesitate to contact the associated supervisors in case of questions. Successful applicants will conduct their research work at two universities and in close collaboration with industrial partners. They will also benefit from the various training and networking opportunities within the ITN and large-scale infrastructure by the consortium partners across Europe.

ongeveer een maand geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


The near injection borehole reservoir rock is a highly important volume of material which partly controls the success of geothermal projects. It controls how easy it is to re-inject geothermal brines, which is one of the major operational issues which affects geothermal projects. This rock can be damaged during drilling, will have the highest flowrates, and the largest thermal gradients in the geothermal system. It is noted that geo-chemistry and micro-biology are also important in this topic, but have been excluded due to time. The thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour may cause an increase or reduction in overall permeability, by shrinkage which reduces pore space or micro-cracking which can increase permeability.

A research geothermal well, being developed on the TU Delft campus (DAPwell), will have a novel fibre optic sensing system for acoustic emissions in the injector well. Cemented tightly to the formation, optical fibres will be able to detect acoustic emissions from micro-cracking events. These events will be due to (i) the modified in-situ stress field due to drilling; (ii) the thermally induced volume changes in the rock (shrinkage mainly in the injection well); (iii) changes in the strength properties of the rock due to flow erosion or geo-chemical activity. In addition, the DAPwell research programme will collect downhole logs both initially and at various times during operation.

Bringing together numerical modelling of the thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour and detailed observations from the DAPwell will result in new insights into the occurring behaviour, and the ability to further test operational techniques to best improve or maintain permeability. This will have the consequence of being able to maintain pumping pressures and rates (normally the pressure increases and/or the rate decreases) which (a) increases production efficiency and durability, and (b) reduces the seismic risk.

This work will benefit from other projects taking place as part of the DAPwell research programme, for example thermo-hydro-mechanical testing of reservoir rocks and micro-structural scanning of reservoir cores.

The objectives of this position are:

  • Develop an understanding of the thermo-hydro-mechanical processes around the injection wells of geothermal systems. Focus will be on processes which impact the injectibility and/or stability.
  • Develop concepts of how the thermo-hydro-mechanical processes could be utilised to benefit both safety (reduce seismic risk) and efficiency and durability (improve injectibility).

Proposed activities:

  • Develop a thermo-hydro-mechanical model for the near borehole processes around the injection well, including reservoir rock failure processes. It is anticipated that thermally induced mechanics.
  • Analyse acoustic emission data collected from the DAPwell to identify location and magnitude of cracking events.
  • Couple the model results with collected acoustic emissions, injection data and borehole logs to improve modelling and validate simulated behaviour.
  • Numerically investigate different operational methods (different injection temperatures and pressures) to control downhole behaviour.

The student will be able to take advantage of the EASYGO project consortium. The student is proposed to have secodments to RWTH Aachen (Prof Florian Wellmann/Florian Amann) and to the geothermal developer and operator Hydreco Geomec (Barbara Cox). Four training weeks will be organised during the EASYGO project where various aspects of geothermal energy and research skills will be presented.


We are looking for an excellent candidate with the following qualifications, knowledge and skills:

  • A master degree in applied earth science, civil engineering, geophyscis, mechanical engineering or another degree with a substantial mechanics, fluid flow and/or geophysics content.
  • Knowledge of computational modelling (of mechanics) and geophysics interpretation would be an asset.
  • Insight into comparing experimentally collected data and numerical models, with a consideration of uncertainties would be a benefit.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are required.

If your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.


TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

During the first three years, the salary will be covered via the Marie Curie Project allowances.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy, you can contact Philip Vardon, Associate Professor, email: p.j.vardon@tudelft.nl, tel: +31(0)1527 81456.


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