Research being undertaken by our current postgraduates:

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Feb 2010

The Dynamics of Convection in Porous Media

For convection in an impermeable box of porous media heated from below and with insulating sides, discrete harmonic solutions occur if the temperature gradient is large enough. In a 1972 paper, Beck has determined which mode first becomes stable at the onset of convection, given the horizontal scaled lengths of the three dimensional box. There are particular box dimensions where two, three or even four solutions become stable simultaneously. An exchange of energy occurs between the viable modes, which ceases when a steady state solution is reached. In these cases it is not clear which mode of convection arises. The steady state solution may be a single mode, or a combination of modes. In this research, perturbation theory is applied to uncover a system of ordinary differential equations which govern the time evolution of the amplitudes of the viable modes. Dynamical systems theory reveals how these modes interact with each other, and the nature of the steady state solution.

My research is particularly important in the geothermal energy industry. Geothermal energy is a growing industry in the renewable energy sector. Identifying where local upwards currents of hot water occur, provides the opportunity of relatively shallow and therefore cost efficient wells. Knowing which the steady state solution will result from a particular geometry can be used to minimise the costs needed to obtain the operational temperature.

- Robert & Maude Gledden Postgraduate Research Scholarship

Assistance in statistics is available for Postgraduates students by research at the UWA Centre for Applied Statistics.