Modelling infiltration and runoff erosion of hydrophobic soils
Mitigation for slope protection from rainfall is usually costly, intrusive and based in heavy engineering solutions and as such there is significant need for more sustainable low cost alternatives.
This project is advertised as part of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. It is currently not available to self-funded applicants. Find out more information about the DTP including how to apply.
The potential to use hydrophobic soils as part of engineered schemes for slope protection has emerged as a topic of considerable interest to both industry and the research community and is currently being investigated by the supervisors. Pilot studies in model granular materials with water repellent treatment show that the method is effective in reducing infiltration and relatively low cost. Furthermore ongoing experiments are testing the response of artificially induced water-repellent soils under different scenarios with the influence of soil properties and soil treatment in relation to the environmental conditions and vegetation being investigated. The intended PhD programme will build on this expanding experimental body of evidence to explore in detail the infiltration and runoff erosion of hydrophobic soils via theoretical and numerical modelling. These soils, the result of either natural processes such as forest fire or synthetic treatment, exhibit distinctly different drying and wetting characteristics to 'normal' soils and as such require new or modified modelling approaches. This study will focus on representing the identified processes and assessing the impact of hydrophobicity on soil slope behaviour via the development of novel theoretical models and their solution utilising established numerical techniques. The models will be validated and tested by comparison with experimental test data produced by the supervisors research groups as part of an existing research programme. The specific goal of this project is to develop models to determine the conditions under which infiltration is reduced in water repellent materials without significantly enhancing erosion and thereby allow the design of enhanced geotechnical infrastructure.