Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté (UBFC)

PhD - Developing injection and visualization methods for in situ treatments and monitoring of DNAPL-contaminated aquifers

UBFC – Université de Franche-Comté

Besançon, France

Qualifications (Master degree, PhD…) You hold (or are about to receive) a master 2 or equivalent with a background in physical sciences, chemistry, applied geology or closely related backgrounds.
Job hours (full time/ part time) Full time
Employer UBFC – Université de Franche-Comté
Host Laboratory UTINAM
URL Host Laboratory https://www.utinam.cnrs.fr/?-Presentation-de-l-Institut-UTINAM-368-&lang=en
Address Host Laboratory 16 route de Gray, 25030

Job description

Description of the thesis topic

Water is a critical resource, considered vital, although fresh water, mainly groundwater, is only about 0.5% of the whole amount of water present on earth. The growing imbalance between availability and needs of this resource and the impacts of human activities have brought regulations on water in order to preserve and recover water resources, both in terms of quantity and quality. Water catchment for drinking mainly involves groundwater.

The fast infiltration of contaminants in soils that occurs after accidental spillages, makes groundwater especially vulnerable. Many contaminants have deleterious effects on water quality, human health and living organisms. In France, about 75% of pollutions are due to hydrocarbons, from which 20% involve chlorinated hydrocarbons. The nuisance is especially connected to toxicity, mobility, persistency and frequency of these chemical compounds.

The Stockholm convention lays down a black list of more than one hundred organic compounds, called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), among which chlorinated compounds represent 63%. Indeed, the wide use of chlorinated organic compounds (COCs) in the past caused the contamination of numerous sites. The presence of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) of COCs in sub-soils is the result of spillages. These DNAPLs percolate to the aquitard because of their high density and relatively low solubility. As the free phase moves downwards, it leaves behind a discontinuous residual phase of compounds in the contaminated soils. There, DNAPL droplets are trapped by capillary forces in narrow soil pores. However, water permeability of the contaminated strata increases with water saturation. Pure and residual phases feed plumes of dissolved COCs for decades to centuries, which often prevent water use because of drinking water and indoor air standards.

Because of the strong sinking behavior of chlorinated-DNAPLs and relative solubility of COCs that impact wide areas, in situ treatments have been acknowledged the most relevant solution. Besides, in situ treatments are currently promoted because of the absence of excavation, handling and transport of contaminated materials, which strongly reduce risks and costs. However, they are often limited by the accurate localization of the source and plume zones, the accessibility to contaminants, especially in deep or high spatial variations or low permeability zones. Especially, treatments in low accessibility anisotropic zones require to develop new tools making effective their remediation and their accurate 3D real-time monitoring during operations, in cost-efficient ways. Finding these technologies represents one of the biggest challenge in modern environmental remediation, which is the aim of this project. Indeed, given the low accessibility of contaminated zones and the spatial anisotropy in subsoils, there is an acknowledged lack of efficient technologies for their clean-up, and thus many contaminated sites cannot be brought to regulatory criteria within a reasonable time frame.

It is acknowledged that in situ treatments are limited by the lack of controlled contact between contaminants and the remedial fluids. Fingering is a common phenomenon arising when injecting a low viscosity fluid into a porous matrix or when it is in contact with a more viscous fluid such as a DNAPL. Currently, viscous water-based fluids such as surfactant foams and polymer solutions are under development and assessment for the in situ environmental remediation (ISER) to prevent the fingering of the injected treatment fluids, in order to keep a good control of their propagation both in isotropic and in anisotropic media. In that area, we made pioneering works, both at lab and field-scales and the project aims at pursuing their development to handle both critical phenomena and successful remediation strategies. Here, the combination of viscous fluids to control better targeted flows, and real-time imaging of clean-up operations through the development of geophysical methods is expected to significantly improve the performance of treatments.

This I-SITE Bourgogne Franche-Comté project is linked to an industrial research project founded by the French management agency for energy and environment. It involves a new collaboration between 3 laboratories from the University of Franche-Comté UTINAM (N. Fatin-Rouge), CHRONO-ENVIRONNEMENT (J. Albaric) and FEMTO-ST (K. Phan Huy).

The PhD student will be co-supervised by the three persons mentioned above. He/She will use the dedicated facilities available at UTINAM to make 1D to 3D-experiments of designed injections in sandboxes in order to set-up controlled recovery of DNAPL and distribution of reagents in complex hydrogeological models. In the same time, he/she will develop low invasive monitoring tools and methods for 3D-imaging of the treated zones, and will cross-check informations from visualization, accurate physicochemical mapping/sensoring and imaging obtained from the developed non-invasive physical methods. Finally, He/She will be involved in field-assessments of all the developed methods with academic and industrial partners. He/She is expected to do strong interactions with (geo)physiscists.

Work Context

This PhD is funded as part of a I-SITE Bourgogne Franche-Comté grant ((Papirus+). It is connected to an ADEME’s GESIPOL project entitled: Upwelling technology and injection of stabilizing agents for assisted pumping using tilted recovery wells (Papirus). The Besançon University has opened an innovative path for research on controlled injections of matter in subsoils and monitoring.
The host laboratory is the Institute UTINAM, in Besançon, which is a joined research centre between CNRS and the University of Besançon (UMR6213). UTINAM is composed by over 150 staff members including over 100 permanent staff members and around 50 PhD students and postdocs. The PhD student will benefit from interactions with a skilled research engineer and another PhD student working on similar topics.
The PhD student is expected to have regular meetings and interactions at the CHRONO-ENVIRONNEMENT and FEMTO-ST Laboratories located in Besançon and close to UTINAM.

Supervisor(s):Fatin-Rouge, Nicolas (nicolas.fatin-rouge@univ-fcomte.fr)

Candidate profile

You are enthusiastic and motivated on performing accurate experimental work using advanced equipments, experimental design as well as data processing methods. You are handy(wo)man, interested in Fablab environment, able to make developments on Arduino. Some experience in laboratory settings is necessary because of the experimental methodologies developments expected. Experience with data processing and statistical work would be appreciated.

You would like an interdisciplinary project with potential benefits for environment, sustainable development and industry.
You are quality-oriented with a taste for scientific rigor, conscientious, open-minded, creative, dynamic and collaborative.
You are used to make reports, writing skills, easily communicate to different audiences and have high level of English.

Keywords:Soil and groundwater remediation, in situ treatments, low invasive monitoring, viscous fluids, geophysics

Application deadline:June 30th, 2019
Starting Job:October 1st, 2019


Please send the following documents (all in one PDF file) by e-mail to nicolas.fatin-rouge@univ-fcomte.fr :

1) For EU candidates: Copy of your national ID card or of your passport page where your photo is printed.
For non-EU candidates: Copy of your passport page where your photo is printed.

2) Curriculum Vitae (1 page).

3) Letter of motivation relatively to the position (1 page).

4) Copy of your Master degree and/or Engineer degree if already available.
5) Copy of your final marks and ranks.

6) Coordinates of reference persons (maximum 3, at least your master thesis supervisor): Title, Name, organization, e-mail.

If you have questions regarding the application, please contact the supervisors.


Apply with CV and Cover Letter

Must be a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file and no larger than 1MBMust be a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file and no larger than 1MB

PhD - Developing injection and visualization methods for in situ treatments and monitoring of DNAPL-contaminated aquifers