Global Platform lecturer joins the Institute of Petroleum Engineering

Dr Florian Doster, Global Platform lecturer for the Institute of Petroleum Engineering

Dr Florian Doster is joining Heriot-Watt University's Institute of Petroleum Engineering (IPE) as one of the Global Platform appointments.  The Head of the Institute, Professor  Dorrik Stow, introducing Dr Doster to the IPE team said, "He has a physics background and is working on multiphase flow and transport processes through porous media, so will fit in well with our research interests at IPE."

Florian has a physics background and is working on multiphase flow and transport processes through porous media, so will fit in well with our research interests at IPE.
Prof. Dorrik Stow, Head of IPE

Dr Doster has spent a week in IPE meeting his new colleagues and familiarising himself with the Campus and Edinburgh.   He said "I am excited about joining the vibrant institute of Petroleum Engineering and I am looking forward to inspiring joint research."

He will be joining IPE full-time on 7th January, 2014.   Until then he will be based at Princeton University (USA).

Research interests

Humanity in the 21st century faces three important challenges that commonly need a profound understanding of the simultaneous flow of multiple fluids in the subsurface:

  • Water supply,
  • energy supply, and
  • climate change.

Despite this immediate relevance, the simultaneous flow of two immiscible fluids in porous media has resisted a thorough theoretical analysis for more than a century.

Dr. Doster's research focuses on the differences between drainage and imbibition processes and on how parts of fluids get trapped and mobilised in different flow regimes.

His work is theoretical, studying the scientific challenge to improve the understanding of the crucial processes on the pore scale and how they impact macroscopic flow and transport behavior.   He develops models that account for these phenomena.

The resulting models are usually systems of non-linear partial differential equations which require specifically tailored solution strategies.

Water supply

A large percentage of the world's drinking water is obtained from underground aquifers. These are recharged through infiltration across the overlying soil and rock where air and water share the pore space. This infiltration is not constant so the soil gets drained and imbibed in irregular cycles.

Industrial activities may cause infiltration of liquids that potentially leave fractions of contaminant in the water source long after the main plume has been washed out or remediated.

Energy resources

The main energy resources for humanity are fossil fuels. Depleting resources require more elaborate technologies and injection strategies, e.g. water alternating gas (WAG).

In WAG, the reservoir is imbibed and drained in cycles to optimise recovery rate and minimise trapping of the hydrocarbons.

Advancement in technology now renders gas and oil in shale rocks economically accessible.  Optimised production and risk evaluation can only be achieved by the application of precise analytical research into flow phenomena.

Climate change

Novel research solutions into capturing CO2 waste emissions from point sources, such as large fossil fuel or biomass energy facilities, and safely storing these harmful greenhouse gases in deep geological formations can contribute towards slowing down global warming and climate change.

With rising extraction costs, industry is trying to find economically viable ways of extracting the oil left in reservoirs which were previously too difficult or expensive to get at.

One method uses CO2 injection to mobilise otherwise inaccessible oil. The Injection of CO2 drains the formation, but the migration of the CO2 might also lead to an imbibition of parts of the formation.

Storage safety is an important concern and requires an expert understanding of the interplay between drainage and imbibition and trapping phenomena.


Dr Doster is hoping to extend collaborative research between Heriot-Watt University and relevant projects in the Universities of Princeton, Bergen and Stuttgart.