European Research Council projet ReactiveFronts (2015-2020)

PhD position at the Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes
and National School of Chemistry of Rennes, France

Dynamics of fluid-solid reactions in porous media flows:
experimental imaging and modeling

Academic context: As part of the European Research Council project ERC ReactiveFronts, the University of Rennes 1 (France) is opening a PhD position on the study of fluid-solid reactions in porous media flows. The PhD student will be based both at the Universe Science Observatory and at the School of Chemistry of Rennes, which are leading scientific institutions in this field. He will thus benefit from an outstanding interdisciplinary environment, state-of-the-art experimental facilities and numerous international collaborations. He will join the recently formed team of PhD students and postdocs of the ERC project ReactiveFronts (

Scientific context: Porous media flows transport chemical elements in soils and rocks and in biological systems such as lungs, vascular networks or plants. They are also broadly used in industrial systems, such as flow reactors. In many situations, chemical reactions, such as sorption, dissolution and precipitation, occur between the solid and the liquid phases. While these reactions are relatively well known under static conditions, the presence of flow can significantly affect the spatial distribution of chemical species in the liquid phase with unknown consequences on reactions rates [1,2,3]. An outstanding experimental challenge with porous media flows is that these micro-scale solid-liquid interactions are generally inaccessible to direct observation because of the opacity of the medium. However, recent progresses in micro/millifluidics technics are yielding great promises to elucidate these fundamental mechanisms and ultimately solve some important scientific and industrial questions, such as the prediction of contaminant transport in the environment, the characterization of mineral weathering rates, or the design of efficient flow-through reactors.

Project summary: The successful candidate will develop the first experimental setup allowing for a direct imaging of pore scale concentrations under fluid-solid reactions in porous media flows. The experimental setup will be based on the existing design that has allowed measuring for the first time the distribution of concentrations and fluid-fluid reactions rates at pore scale (figure 1) [4]. The obtained micro-scale images will be translated to observations made at the larger scales using thermodynamics and reactive transport modeling. The project will thus combine for the first time the high resolution chemical characterization techniques from the National School of Chemistry and the milli/microfluidic experimental facilities (figure 1) developed jointly by the Geosciences and Physics laboratories in Rennes to explore the dynamics of fluid solid reactive processes under highly controlled flow conditions.

Profile: background in chemistry, Earth science or fluid mechanics and motivation for work at the interface between disciplines, in a collaborative environment. A Master Degree in Chemistry, Engineering, Fluid Mechanics, Geochemistry or related disciplines is required, as well as fluency in English. The position will be open until filled.

Academic supervisors: Tanguy Le Borgne, PI of ERC project ReactiveFronts (Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes), Khalil Hanna (National school of chemistry of Rennes), Hervé Tabuteau (Institut de Physique de Rennes), Yves Méheust (Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes).

References: [1] Le Borgne et al Phys. Rev. Lett. 2013, [2] Hanna et al., Langmuir 2014, [3] Le Borgne et al Geophys. Res. Lett. 2014, [4] de Anna et al. Environ. Sc. Technol. 2014

For more information or to apply, please submit your curriculum vitae, copies of recent transcripts, a cover letter describing previous research experience and interests, and contact information of two references to: Tanguy Le Borgne ( and Khalil Hanna (

posted: 07 September 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.