PhD scholarship in hydraulic modelling and data assimilation for deep urban tunnel systems

DTU Miljø
tirsdag 13 jun 17

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Frist 1. august 2017
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DTU Environment invites for applications for a 3-year PhD scholarship within the field of hydraulic modelling and data assimilation for deep urban tunnel systems. The research project is part of a strategic partnership between DTU and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The PhD student will work closely with our research partners at NTU and other DTU departments on a joint research effort in Smart Cities. The student will spend a minimum of one year at NTU in Singapore throughout the project, as well as become part of the joint degree PhD agreement between NTU and DTU.

The PhD Student will be placed in the Urban Water Systems Section. This section has 30 scientific employees focusing on sustainable management of the urban water cycle with respect to its quantity and quality dealing with processes and technologies across the continuum from raw water, to potable water, to wastewater, to storm water. In all cases, collection, treatment, use, and reuse are considered. Both computational and experimental studies are conducted and research is done at the lab, pilot, full, or city scale, and in collaboration with other research institutes, stakeholders, and end-users.

Project description
Large underground tunnel systems are becoming a widespread tool to assist in solving various problems in urban water management due to their ability to convey and store large volumes of water. The most advanced and ambitious of its kind is currently the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) in Singapore that enable the centralised collection of used water (wastewater) for water reclamation. Also in Copenhagen tunnels are part of the modern wastewater infrastructure adapted to projected future climate changes, by storing and transporting combined sewage and stormwater to treatment facilities in order to minimize sewage overflows and treatment plant bypasses and thus protect local harbor areas and coastal zones used for bathing in summer. Tunnels make it possible to improve the operation of urban wastewater systems, for example by holding back water during peak hours until later when electricity is cheap, which can lead to significant economic savings in the purification of wastewater and to evening out the daily fluctuations of a city’s electricity consumption.

The operation of urban tunnel systems has so far generally not included advanced control algorithms for optimizing e.g. energy consumption or self-cleansing. In order to do this without compromising the main purpose of the tunnels – transporting wastewater, it is of paramount importance to always know the state of the system, i.e. how much water is everywhere in the tunnels at all times, and to be able to make reliable forecasts of the system state to test the consequence of a given control decision. Observations from the system can provide pointwise information about water levels, flows and water quality while models can be used to estimate and forecast the entire system state. Observations in tunnel systems are, however, very scarce, uncertain and error prone due to the hostile environment, and model based forecasts of the future are only useful if the starting point of the models are close to reality. The overall objectives of the PhD project are to:
  • Use modern data assimilation (DA) methods to update the states of detailed hydraulic models of urban tunnel systems in real time to get good system-wide estimates of water levels, flows and relevant water quality parameters.
  • Develop tuning methods for the DA scheme that are suitable for hydraulic pipe/tunnel models, and develop methods to make model based sensor validation using modern DA methods and hydraulic models.
  • Use the updated models as starting point for forecasting water levels, flows and water quality throughout the systems – for a range of operational purposes.
Candidates should have a master's degree in Engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in Engineering. Desirable skills and/or interests for the candidate:
  • Hydraulic computations and modelling
  • Data assimilation
  • Programming skills
  • Knowledge of urban drainage systems
Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The candidate will obtain a joint PhD degree bearing the names of both DTU and NTU.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Peter Steen Mikkelsen and Assistant Professor Morten Borup – in dialogue with our collaborator at NTU.

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, scientific advice and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.
Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years. Expected start date is September 1 or October 1, 2017.

  • 2 years at DTU Lyngby Campus
  • 1 year at NTU Singapore
Further information
Further information may be obtained from Assistant Professor Morten Borup, e-mail:
Please submit your online application no later than 1 August 2017
Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Environment is one of the largest university departments specializing in environmental engineering in Europe. DTU Environment conducts research and development, and provides educational programs and service to society in the area of engineering of water in natural, urban and industrial contexts, processing and recovery of residual resources, environmental risk assessment and chemical risk reduction. The aim is to develop new environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies, and to disseminate this knowledge to society and a new generation of engineers. The Department has approximately 190 staff from more than 30 nationalities.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.