An Introduction to Dr. Bagus Muljadi: Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering

You can call me Bagus, which means nice in my native language Indonesian – seriously, it literally means nice.

My daughter and I pub crawling circa 2015

I joined the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC) in January as an Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. My position is a by-product of the UK-US partnership between GERC, University of Nottingham, and Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, Virginia Tech, USA. Hence, I am also an Affiliated Assistant Professor at the latter institution.

Previously, I have been globetrotting and changing disciplines for years. In 2006, I received a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering from Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia. I moved to Taiwan to do postgraduate studies and received an MSc (in 2008), and a PhD (in 2012) in Applied Mechanics from National Taiwan University. I then moved to Toulouse, France to have my first postdoctoral training in Mathematics under the tutelage of Pierre Degond. Shortly after, I crossed the English Channel to work with Martin Blunt and Branko Bijeljic at the Earth Science and Engineering Department, Imperial College London. For lack of a better term, I would call myself a poro-mathematical engineer – No, I can’t read minds.

My early research interests were rarefied gas dynamics. I developed numerical tools for simulating flow of semiclassical gases (like bosons or fermions) in a wide range of Knudsen numbers. This could be flow in very-tight spaces, such as in quantum semiconductor devices, organic-rich shale, or an average-sized London studio. Moving on, I developed multiscale methods for solving problems laden with perforations, and a large disparity in scales. For example, pollutant dispersion in an urban area, where the sizes of the smallest object – like your poodle – may be three or more orders of magnitude smaller than the city itself. I found this problem similar to those encountered in subsurface hydrology. Of course given the right scale, everything – including a city – can be seen as porous media.

At Imperial College, I took X-ray Micro Tomography images of rock samples with microns resolution and solve flow directly in the pore spaces. This type of simulation is the holy grail of micro-scale simulation for it is considered to be hitherto the most complex, and highly resolved spatially. In my other project, I collaborated with Cambridge MRI Centre to investigate multi-scale reactive transport in carbonates. Reactive transport plays a big role, for example, in designing geological storages for CO2: CO2 dissolved in groundwater becomes acidic and reacts with the host rock – compromising the reservoir’s integrity in the process.

Flow in Estaillades carbonate: (a) X-ray micro-CT image; (b) 3-D pore topology; and (c) flow streamlines. Muljadi et al, Advances in Water Resources 95 (2016) 329–340

I chose GERC because of the unique multi-scale approach of its research. Furthermore, a partnership with Virginia Tech means we have access to both institutions’ state-of-the-art experimental facilities, capable of imaging flow and transport at the nanometre up to the kilometre scale – a modeller’s dream! Here at GERC, I work with scientists from various schools including Mathematical sciences, Chemistry, and Medical Sciences. Having a dual affiliation, I enjoy working closely with my counterparts at Virginia Tech in research and PhD joint supervision. I am also looking forward to supervise NSF-IRES students this summer.

As much as I miss London’s underground poems and food scene, I love every bit of life since moving to Nottingham. Especially seeing that extra digit in the bank balance after paying rent. Here, I also started cycling, mostly to and from work. It saves money, and the hilly University Park Campus means that everyday is lower-body day.

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