Tom Bultreys

Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Applied and interdisciplinary physics
    • Hydrogeology
  • Engineering and technology
    • (Multiphase) flow
    • Modelling and simulation
micro-CT porous media multiphase flow image analysis Pore-scale modelling Pore network models Image-based simulations
I am a physicist/Earth scientist who became fascinated by the staggering complexity of fluid flows in porous materials and how they play a role in almost everything around us, from mundane matters such as washing the dishes with a kitchen sponge to enormous engineering operations, storing megatons of CO2 in rock layers kilometres below the Earth’s surface. I study how such fluid flows (and the associated transport of micro-particles and dissolved chemicals) impact geological applications that are crucial to achieve a sustainable future. These applications include underground hydrogen storage (to store renewable energy over long-term periods), geological carbon storage (to abbate greenhouse gas emissions), groundwater pollution spreading and remediation, and volcanic systems. My contributions to the field of porous media led to the 2019 PoreLab Young Researcher Award from the International Society for Porous Media, an ERC Starting Grant (2023-2028), and several invited presentations and seminars. My research is driven by the desire to build bridges: between fundamental physics and applications involving complex (geological) materials, between models and experiments, and crucially between the cascading scales that control processes in porous materials. To do this, I push forward the unprecedented opportunities of high-resolution X-ray imaging to observe microscopic processes in geo-materials, with all the complexities and heterogeneities they entail. I develop models to make sense of this complexity, testing hypotheses by comparison to my (and others’) experimental data. I strongly believe in the importance of open science to advance this research and have more than 2TB of open-access datasets shared on various public repositories.