Thermal Energy from Embedded Retaining Walls: Development of Analysis and Design Methods (EPSRC DTP)

Project description

The UK Government has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. While the last five years has seen a 50% reduction in carbon density of the electricity grid, the target is unlikely to be met without also tackling the gas network. This is because gas, principally used to provide space heating delivers over twice the energy of the electricity grid.

With an ever decreasing carbon intensity of electricity, one of the best routes to decarbonise heating is through use of ground thermal energy storage coupled with ground source heat pump systems. However, heat pump systems retain high investments costs, mainly due to the expense of drilling dedicated ground heat exchangers (GHE).

Efforts to reduce these up-front costs include using dual purpose buried civil engineering structures as GHE and for structure support. This technique has been successful for foundation piles, but is now being developed for other infrastructure such as metro systems, underground carparks, and water and wastewater infrastructure.

Thermal energy storage via embedded retaining walls is the type of structure closest to industry implementation, having been trialled in notable case studies in Paris, London and Vienna. However, adoption of the technology is being held back by an absence of accessible analysis approaches and design tools to assess the amount of thermal energy which can be stored. This PhD project will provide those tools. It aims to:

  • Develop novel analytical methods to relate heat exchanged with embedded retaining walls with the temperature changes within the structure;
  • Test these methods against short to medium duration field data and longer timescale synthetic numerically derived datasets;
  • Make recommendations for design methods and checks to be used in practice;
  • Determine the types of projects and locations most suitable for long term operation of heating and cooling systems based on ground heat storage via embedded retaining walls.

As well as analytical analysis, the project will involve assisting in maintaining field sites and interpreting data from those sites. This will allow development of insights into the thermal behaviour of retaining walls used as heat exchangers which will guide choices on appropriate methods and boundary conditions for analysis and design.

This PhD project forms part of a larger research project on energy from embedded retaining walls and the applicant will work with other researchers at the University of Leeds as well as a range of industrial and academic partners in the UK and overseas.

Entry requirements

A degree equivalent to a UK upper second class honours (2:1), or higher, in engineering, physical or environmental sciences is expected. Experience in analysis of thermal systems, experimental methods and data analysis would be beneficial.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the 'Thermal Energy from Embedded Retaining Walls: Development of Analysis and Design Methods (EPSRC DTP)' as well as Dr Fleur Loveridge as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office
e:, t: +44 (0)113 343 8000.