- Rankine Chair of Engineering, Professor of Energy Engineering (Systems Power and Energy)
- Senate Assessor (Senate Office)
I’ve enjoyed a varied career ranging from early days in pure science (principally geology), through water resources and environmental engineering (especially groundwater engineering), on through mining environmental engineering to energy engineering. There are several persistent threads running through all of these experiences, mainly to do with quantitative geoscience, numerical modelling of fluid flow and reactive mass transfer, and the translation of high-level conceptual principles into hands-on engineering solutions, invariably for purposes which I believe are socially and environmentally benign. I owe my formal education to two universities: Newcastle University in the UK (BSc and PhD), and Oklahoma State University in the USA (MS), where I spent two very happy years as a Harkness Fellow (1984-86), taking advantage of burgeoning activities in the then-National Centre for Groundwater Research and the EPA’s RSKERL Lab in Ada. My education was extended – and continues to be – by industrial experience, with Yorkshire Water, the National Rivers Authority, Centro Yunta (La Paz, Bolivia), NIREX, Northumbrian Water, Project Dewatering Ltd, Cluff Geothermal Ltd, Five-Quarter Energy Ltd and various consultancy missions worldwide. I spent just under 20 years at Newcastle University, where, amongst other things, I founded and led the HERO research group, which went on to win the University the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the first time (2005); established what is now the Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research; founded and Directed the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS); and served as the University’s Public Orator and its first-ever Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement. I joined Glasgow University in August 2012.
I currently also serve as Chair of the Global Scientific Committee of the Plant Earth Institute, an intermational NGO (of which I am also a Trustee) which aims to promote South-South collaboration in science-based projects that further the cause of sustainable development in the countries of the Global South.
My current research is entirely focused in the energy sector, and besides engaging with the broad challenges of keeping the lights on and homes and businesses warm whilst decarbonising our energy systems, I focus specifically on three areas in which my particular skills and experience can be put to best use:
- Deep geothermal energy in the UK (I recently led the drilling and testing of the only three deep (≤ 1821m) geothermal exploration boreholes to be drilled in the UK since the 1980s), principally for direct-use purposes
- Volcanogenic geothermal resources (especially in developing countries) for combined heat and power, especially through enhanced Organic Rankine Cycle systems
- Ground-coupled heating and cooling systems (including ground-source heat pumps)
Responsible Use of Fossil Fuels:
- Underground coal gasification, and other forms of non-conventional gas extraction using borehole technologies, tightly coupled to carbon capture and storage
- Maximising the contribution of mini- and micro-hydro to the low-carbon prosperity of rural communities in Scotland and the Global South
- Examining new materials and conversion cycles for increased scope (e.g. for renewable heat) and efficiency in hydropower applications at all scales
- Engineering the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from large hydropower reservoirs in tropical regions
I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007.
Principal professional affiliations and qualifications: FGS, C.Geol., FNEIMME, FICE, FIChemE, C.Sci., C.Eng.
Other memberships: International Geothermal Association, Geothermal Resources Council, European Geothermal Energy Council, Underground Coal Gasification Association, International Mine Water Association, International Hydropower Association
I am a fluent Spanish speaker, and hold Honorary Doctorates from:
1. School of Mines, University of Oviedo, Spain (2010)
2. Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa, Perú (2010)
Tha Gàidhlig agam cuideachd, agus mise ag obair mar riochdaire a’ Cholaiste Saidheans is Innleadaireachd air Comataidh Ghàidhlig an Oilthigh Ghlaschu. (I also speak Gaelic, and represent the College of Science and Engineering on the Gaelic Committee of the University of Glasgow).
Amezaga, J.M., Rotting, T.S., Younger, P.L., Nairn, R.W., Noles, A.-J., Oyarzun, R., and Quintanilla, J.
A rich vein? Mining and the pursuit of sustainability.
Environmental Science and Technology, 45(1).
Roddy, D.J., and Younger, P.L.
Underground coal gasification with CCS: A pathway to decarbonising industry.
Energy and Environmental Science, 3(4).
Clarkson, M.H., Birks, D., Younger, P.L., Carter, A., and Cone, S.
Groundwater cooling at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 42.
Bowden, L.I., Jarvis, A.P., Younger, P.L., and Johnson, K.L.
Phosphorus removal from waste waters using basic oxygen steel slag.
Environmental Science and Technology, 43(7).
Principal Investigator: Putting Deep Geothermal Resources at the Heart of City Centre Regeneration: Newcastle Science City and the Ninety Fathom Fault. Department of Energy and Climate Change, Deep Geothermal Challenge Fund, British Geological Survey and Newcastle Science City. Feb 2011 – July 2012.
Co-Investigator: SAFE Barriers – a Systems Approach For Engineered Barriers. EPSRC / Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 7-member consortium led by Strathclyde Univ. April 2012 – Mar 2016.
Principal Investigator: Expediting use of the UK’s most recently-proven geothermal resource (Eastgate, Co Durham). Deep Geothermal Challenge Fund, Department of Energy and Climate Change. Jan – March 2010.
Co-investigator: iKNOW: a Beacon for public engagement. Research Councils UK / HEFCE, 2008 – 2011.
Principal Investigator: Feasibility study for large-scale development of Underground Coal Gasification with Carbon Capture and Storage in North East England. Match-funded by One NorthEast, 2008 - 2009.
Principal Investigator: GEOTRAINET: Geo-Education for a sustainable geothermal heating and cooling market. EU FP7, Intelligent Energy-Europe (IEE). 2008 to 2011.
Co-investigator: Generic unifying concepts for wastewater treatment design – II. EPSRC Platform Grant, 2008 – 2011.
Principal investigator: Environmental engineers of tomorrow: collaborating for success through people. EPSRC, 2007-2009.
Co-investigator: Biogeochemical & microbial analyses of deep saline hotwater aquifer in the Weardale granite. NERC, 2006-2007.
Principal Investigator: Geothermal mapping: terrain classification for application of open-loop ground-source heat pump systems in eastern County Durham and adjoining areas. County Durham Economic Partnership / One North East, March 2008 - Sept 2009.
Co- Investigator: Rates and management implications of corrosion of austenitic steel structures in dewatered and ventilated underground storage facilities in granite. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, 2008 – 2011.
I am currently supervising the following PhD students and projects:
-Gerardo González: Modelling carbon capture and storage in voids created by underground coal gasification. 2008 – 2012. (at Newcastle University).
-Andrew Waring: A conceptual hydrogeological model for fault-related geothermal energy resources in northern England. NERC CASE Studentship with Cluff Geothermal Ltd. 2011 – 2015.
-David Birks: Optimisation of groundwater-based cooling systems for large public buildings in London and other cities. With financial support from Parsons Brinckerhoff. Part-time, 2011-2017.
-Juan Alvarez-Vazquez: Subsurface Engineering for Underground Coal Gasification and Subsequent Carbon Capture & Storage. University of Glasgow College of Science and Engineering EPSRC DTA, in collaboration with Five-Quarter Energy Ltd. 2012 – 2016.
-Sotirios Kyriakis: Renewable heat networks: modelling for robust design. Scottish Energy Technology Partnership, in collaboration with University of St Andrews and Cluff Geothermal Ltd. 2012 – 2016.
I am interested in supervising new PhD projects in the following areas:
-Reservoir engineering and energy conversion system design for medium- and high-enthalpy geothermal resources
-Enhanced exploration and drilling techniques for deep geothermal resources
-Improved ground characterisation and modelling for shallow (GSHP) geothermal and groundwater-cooling systems
-Remote characterisation and engineering of voids produced by underground coal gasification (UCG), and their re-use as carbon dioxide stores
-Integrating UCG with CBM and shale gas exploitation strategies, within a holistic carbon management framework
-Optimising the ecologically-friendly, community-focused use of hydropower resources in the Scottish Highlands, East Africa and Latin America
Leading the Integrated Systems Design Project module for Stage 4 Engineering students in the following programmes: mechanical, Aerospace, Electrical & Electronics and Product Design.
Supervising several Stage 4 Dissertation projects in Civil Engineering, on hydropower, mini tidal power, grid resilience and ground-source heat pump system design parameters.
Currently developing teaching in energy and related aspects of Stage 5 students in Civil Engineering.