Lin Ma

Lin Ma

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I am a NERC & Presidential Research Fellow focusing on Multi-scale 3D/4D imaging and characterization of rocks (Digital rocks) in geoenergy reservoirs and subsurface energy storage. I am also a University of Manchester at Harwell fellow in the theme of subsurface energy and storage.

My current research aims to build novel and advanced 3D/4D digital approaches and correlative experiments to fully understand the complicated pore networks and the reactions of subsurface energy (e.g. natural gas, geothermal, hydrogen and CO2) with rocks under subsurface conditions (e.g. temperature, pressure, and chemistry) cross multiple scales (nm to cm). This will achieve the goal of enabling economic growth and environment protection via applications of clean energy extraction and subsurface energy storage.

PhD applications and research collaborations are welcome.

Research interests

Digital Rocks for Net Zero Energy

multi-scale 3D and 4D imaging characterisation of geo-energy storage


1. Multi-scale Imaging characterisation of pores and rocks (sub-nano scale to cm-scale)

2. 4D imaging of fluid-rock interaction under subsurface conditions (250°C & 3600Psi) 

3. Upscaling of pore network from nm-scale to mm-scale

4. CO2 sequestration and reaction in shales

5. Time-lapse imaging of fines migration and filter cake

6. Mineral precipitation and dissolution induced by artificial operations

7. Multi-scale investigation of subsurface energy storage


The applications include shale gas/oil, carbon storage and sequestration, geothermal and heat storage, nuclear wate disposal, Hydrogen and compressed air storage etc.


Figure 1: An example of multi-scale imaging of Haynesville shale (Ma et al., 2019)


Figure 2: Experimental set-up for imaging fluid-rock interaction under subsurface conditions

Figure 3: Some Examples of 4D imaging of rocks under varied thermal (A), mechanical (B), flows (C) and chemical conditions (D).


PhD applications and research collaborations are welcome. More details see research interests.

Fully funded PhD studentship (2021 entry):Multi-scale and multi-approach investigation of subsurface hydrogen storage

PhD opportunities (2022 entry): 

1) Nano- scale imaging and modelling of gas transport in clay-rich mudstone

2) Bridging micro-to macro- scale characterisation of subsurface energy storage 

3) Multi-scale investigation of the thermal-hydro-mechanical-chemical coupling process in the subsurface storage

Contact for more details




Research Fellow, University of Manchester 2017-

PDRA, University of Manchester, 2016-2017

PhD Petroleum geosciences, University of Manchester, 2012-2015

MSc Petroleum geology, Jilin University, 2009-2012

BSc Petroleum geology, Jilin University, 2005-2009

My group

PhD students: 

  • Chenzi Shi (2018-): Time-lapse imaging of fines migration within hydrocarbon reservoirs (co-supervised)
  • Ke Wang (2019-): Multi-scale investigation of CO2-induced microstructural and mechanical alterations in rocks (co-supervised)
  • Shuangyi Gong (2020- ): Pore-scale investigation on fluid-rock interaction of geothermal and heat storage sub-surface reservoirs (co-supervised)
  • Ziyu Zhang (2021-): Multi-scale investigation of thermal-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes in carbon sequestration, a case study of Teesside
  • Heather Braid (2021-): Multi-scale and multi-approach investigation of subsurface hydrogen storage

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Areas of expertise

  • QE Geology
  • 3D/4D Imaging
  • unconventional reservoirs
  • CO2 sequestration
  • shale

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Manchester Energy
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures


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