Fully-funded PhD Position in Hydrogen-Blended Natural Gas Safety at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Fully-funded PhD Position in Hydrogen-Blended Natural Gas Safety at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Applications are requested for a fully-funded PhD position in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applied to hydrogen-blended natural gas safety.


UBC opened its Okanagan campus in 2005 as a bold new UBC presence in the interior of British Columbia, designed to deliver on the promise of a research-intensive institution purpose-built for the 21st century. UBC’s Okanagan campus is home to over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 630 faculty members and nine Faculties and Schools. With the campus rapidly emerging as a research powerhouse, UBC Okanagan students receive an outstanding education in a stimulating student-centric learning environment. UBC’s Okanagan campus is situated in Kelowna on the unceded lands of the Sylx (Okanagan) Peoples.


The UBCO CFD Lab is a multidisciplinary team of research students, postdocs, and visiting collaborators. engaging in CFD research in topics spanning wind energy, bioengineering, cryogenics, turbomachinery, and hydrogen systems-all with a focus on uncovering underlying physical mechanics via high-fidelity CFD simulations. The team has tremendous access to high-performance computing resources, giving team members unique opportunities to contribute to leading scientific challenges while conducting some of the largest-scale CFD simulations in Canada. The CFD Lab is characterized by team-work, collaboration, and exploration.


This project involves a multi-disciplinary collaboration with BC’s provincial gas utility, FortisBC. To reduce GHG emissions, we are investigating blending 5-20 vol hydrogen into the natural gas distribution system. This project will focus on how hydrogen. enrichment impacts detonation risk and flammability following accidental gas release. High-pressure releases of hydrogen may be at risk of detonation due to the shock heating of the air. Whether detonation can occur for hydrogen blended into natural gas is unknown, motivating the research.

Moreover, the different gas properties between hydrogen and natural gas motivate further research into how the blend will disperse following accidental release, how that may influence the flammability of the mixture, and whether current safety protocols following accidental release should be adjusted for hydrogen-blended natural gas.
The successful applicant will conduct computational studies of a mixed-fuel JET (hydrogen-methane) expanding into air. Initially, non-reacting high-fidelity simulations (DNS/LES) of jet release will be conducted to assess the multi-species turbulent transport of the release. Subsequently, reacting simulations will be conducted for subsonic and supersonic releases, with a special focus on shock induced diffusion-ignition of the mixed gas.

The research objectives are:

  1. Identify the risk of spontaneous detonation of hydrogen-enriched natural gas in the event of an accidental release due to pipeline rupture, puncture, or failure of a gas system component;
  2. Identify how hydrogen-enriched natural gas disperses following an accidental release in order to provide guidelines on the risk zones for flammability limits; and
  3. Provide recommended protocols to minimize risks associated with flammability and detonation of hydrogen-enriched natural gas.

The research will be supervised by Dr. Joshua Brinkerhoff at the UBCO CFD Lab in the LBC Okanagan School of Engineering. The specific research activities will involve high-fidelity simulations (DNS/LES) utilizing high-order CFD methods tailored for compressible, reacting, multi-species flows, both open source and in-house tools.


  • The position is open to students who have completed a Masters degree in mechanical, chemical, or aerospace engineering or a related discipline.Applicants with interests in fluid mechanics, computational fluid mechanics (CFD), numerical simulation, parallel computing, gas dynamics, and/or combustion are encouraged to apply.
  • Coding experience in C/C++ and prior CFD experience is essential.
  • Experience with high-order discretization methods for compressible Navier-Stokes equations is particularly beneficial.

This opportunity is available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, and international applicants meeting the admission criteria for UBC Okanagan and School of Engineering. It is expected that successful candidates will commence graduate studies from January 1, 2023, or as soon as possible.

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse research team fosters. the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. Equity and diversity not only lead to a more fair and open society, but also improves the quality of the science and increases the opportunities to learn and grow from each other.

Applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code-including sex, sexual. orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or Indigeneity-are especially encouraged.


Candidates are asked to submit:

  • A cover letter describing their research interests, experience, and motivations for graduate A detailed curriculum vitae highlighting their educational and professional achievements.
  • A list of three professional and/or academic references
  • Unofficial transcripts from their Masters degree.
  • English test scores (if required). Applicants with degrees in a language other than English must have a minimum TOEFL score of 580 (PBT) or 92 (IBT) or IELTS minimum overall band of 6.5 (with nothing less than 6.0 per individual test).


Interested candidates should send the above documents and direct queries to Dr. Joshua Brinkerhoff ([email protected]). Additional information of Dr. Brinkerhoff’s research is available from his research webpage: https://cfclab.ok.ubc.ca/.

Read also: Two PhD Positions in Data-driven and Learning Control at the University of British Columbia

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