Dr Xiaohui Chen


Dr Chen is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Geotechnics at University of Leeds. He has a highly cross-disciplinary research experience in both geomechanics and geochemistry. Dr Chen's research attention has been focused multiphase-multicomponent reactive fluids transport in deformable soils/rocks. He has developed particular strengths in coupled physical-chemical process by conducting research of groundwater interactions with subsurface geochemistry/ geomicrobiology and their effects on multiphase flow geomechanics. This research attempts to achieve a deeper understanding of the influence of geochemical reactions and micro-organisms activities on the transport of groundwater/air and the subsequent alteration of stress/strain. Such research has widely cross-disciplinary industrial applications such as geotechnical engineering (e.g. borehole/tunnel instability), water research (flooding analysis), subsurface disposal (e.g. underground nuclear waste storage and CO2 sequestration), and environmental engineering such as groundwater flow, pollution transport, contaminated land restoration. This study is also directly related to some contemporary researches such as unconventional & tight gas; oil shale and oil sand, greenhouse gas and renewable energy etc.   

Activities and Distinctions:

  • First author of "Top 5 Highly Downloaded Articles in 2013" from International Journal of Engineering Science (IF:4.261).
  • Co-author of the "front cover" article from Environmental Science & Technology (IF:6.198).
  • Solo author of an article from International Journal of Solids and Structures (IF:2.760).
  • One of the founders of Tay-Gene Geotechnical Centre (2014-2015), Dundee.
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy, was nominated for a university teaching award of “most inspiration moments”, and contributed to increasing the satisfaction rate of students in Civil Engineering at UoA from 65% to 97% (NSS) (2015).
  • ORS Award (2007-2010), and NERC PDRA within £3m BIGRAD consortium (2010-2014).

Research interests

Key Research Topics

  • Mixture Coupling Theory: This research aims to develop a unified theory for multiphase flow transport in deformable porous media, with applications in multiple disciplinary such as Geotechnics (e.g. nuclear waste disposal, CCS, borehole instability etc.), Medical and Bio Tissue Engineering (e.g. Cancer research and tumor growth) and Chemical Engineering etc.     
  • Coupled modelling in Geotechnics (Thermos-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical-Bio): This research aims to fill the gap between the subsurface geochemistry/geomicrobiology/ hydrogeology/mineralogy and their effects on chemical transport. The research will develop a deeper understanding of the influence of geochemical reactions and micro-organism activity on the transport of groundwater/heat/gas/air/radionuclide and the subsequent alteration of stress/strain underground. 
  • Radionuclides transport (modelling): This research aims to provide numerical analysis of radionuclide (U, Np, Pu) reactive transport via water or gas (I/LLW) through engineered barriers (clay for HLW and Portland cement for I/LLW), host rock (very low permeability shales for HLW or hard rock for ILW/LLW) and the geosphere. 
  • Agriculture soil in extreme weather (modelling): This research aims to provide mathematical and numerical model of agriculture soil under extreme weather influence (especially for temperature variation and flood condition). Additionally, sludge will be also studied as it may play an important role in saving organic carbon as biomass.

Key Research Projects

  • Sustainable Agriculture: BIOchemical-physical-biological function of Sludge in Agriculture Soils (BIOSAS). Dr Chen is the academic leader of BioSAS consortium that is funded by White Rose Consortium. BioSAS network includes three universities (University of Leeds, University of Sheffield and University of York), 6 academics (4 Professors) and 3 fully funded PhD studentships. This network aims to develop a multidisciplinary approach to save our soils with organic wastes, and reduce flooding risks by using a natural process. 
  • New Coupled Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical Model for Nuclear Waste Disposal.

Current PhD Students

  • Mr Yue Ma (with Professor Hai-Sui Yu and Professor Doug Stewart), Mr Muataz Al-Moadhen (with Professor Barry Clarke), Ms Tamsyn Kiss (University of York, with Professor Mark Hodson) .

International Journal Editing Roles

  • Assistant Editor of the Journal: Geomechanics and Geoengineering

Student education

I presently teach

CIVE1260 Engineering Surveying and Construction Technology (Module Leader)

CIVE1460 Properties of Materials: Water, Soil, Steel and Timber

CIVE2470 Water Engineering and Geotechnics

CIVE3860 Integrated Design Project 3

CIVE5591M Environmental Engineering and Project Management Dissertation

CIVE5593M Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering Dissertation

CIVE5708M Individual Research Project

I am designing the new MSc module (2017/2018)

 CIVE5574/5575M Groundwater Pollution and Contaminated Land

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Resilient Infrastructure