FLEXIS supports Cardiff University Geology student with vital work experience placement

Cardiff University Geology student, Lottie Atton, has not let COVID clip her learning.

The 1st year MSci Geology student is using her time wisely, and thanks to a longstanding partnership with FLEXIS and GO Wales, Lottie has joined the team on a 20 day work experience placement.

Alongside her studies, Lottie is working with FLEXIS’ Dr Manju from the Geoenvironmental Research Centre, looking at ground source heat pumps and the viability of using this technology as a low carbon alternative to heat people’s homes and buildings.

Like most us, Lottie is currently working from home but gave 5 minutes from her busy schedule to tell us more about her studies, her passion for science and what she hopes to achieve from working with FLEXIS.

FLEXIS GO Wales placement Lottie Atton(FLEXIS GO Wales placement, Lottie Atton)

“I am currently in the first year of my four year MSci Geology studies at Cardiff University. As a geology student, I most enjoy discovering more about the earth we are standing on. I’ve always had an interest specifically in the field of geophysics and a future research role, so this placement is a perfect fit for me.

Whilst at FLEXIS, I’ll be using drilled borehole data that shows soil/rock composition to estimate properties such as thermal conductivity and diffusivity. The results will tell us if specific locations are viable for a ground source heat pump, a more sustainable way of heating buildings. These skills of data analysis to answer scientific or economic questions are vital for research, in addition to presenting findings at the end of the project.

What I enjoy most about the research that I’m doing now, is that it looks at the technical aspects of the subsurface and how we can exploit that to provide renewable energy. The efficiency and security of geothermal energy makes it an interesting area to learn more about, as initiatives like these that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and benefit our environment by mitigating climate change.

FLEXIS is unique in its approach and I’m also looking forward to learning more about how engineering and geology can work together to achieve a more sustainable way of living, as well as using my current knowledge in a research setting.

This GO Wales work placement, provides the kind of education you can’t get at university, a real insight into practical applications of geology. It’s also an opportunity to get work experience that is very valued by future employers, it gives an idea of what my work after university could be like and enhances my current studies.”

FLEXIS Researcher Dr Manju(FLEXIS Researcher, Dr Manju)

Speaking about the research and having Lottie on board, Dr Manju added:

“To carry out a long- term performance analysis of a balanced heating and cooling network using a heat pump, a good understanding of soil/ground thermal behaviour is essential.

To know the long- term thermal behaviour of soil due to heat extraction and heat injection, an accurate estimation of thermal conductivity and diffusivity is prime to the analysis and that’s exactly what Lottie will be performing which will immensely help this research.

Placements and work experience like this, give researchers of the future, the opportunity to get hands on experience to complement their studies and increase their chances of employment after graduating. It also brings together the theory that is learnt in the lab into the physical world of research and how this can be applied to drive change and, in this case, support our mission to net zero.

Lottie is doing a great job and I look forward to seeing her presentation at the end of her 20 day placement and utilising the data that she shares.”

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