Dr Duncan Borman

Dr Duncan Borman


I undertake research within the Institute of Public Health and Environmental Engineering (IPHEE) at the University of Leeds and I am the Programme Leader for our highly rated and leading Civil and Structural Engineering undergraduate programme. My expertise is in mathematical modelling and I have a strong interest in understanding problems that involve complex and multiphase flows.

I have broad experience in numerical modelling and CFD applied to these problems, including mixing in complex fluids where a chemical or biological processes may be occurring (e.g. bioreactors, fuel cells) and problems that require prediction of moving boundaries and free-surfaces (e.g. air-water interfaces).


  • Programme Leader Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Digital and Blended Learning Champion

Research interests

My research interest is in understanding problems that involve multiphase flows that occur in numerous real world problems; my approaches involve developing computational models and applying and developing novel Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). This involves developing understanding of mixing in complex fluids where a chemical or biological processes maybe occurring  (e.g. bioreactors, fuel cells, combustion, high-speed jets, ventilation) and in problems that require prediction of moving boundaries and free-surfaces (e.g. air-water interfaces; understanding morphologies of solidifying/precipitating solutions, inverse problems). The research is both reliant on the development of numerical codes, particularly in the area of boundary problems, but also makes use of a range of commercial and opensource solvers where suitable.  I work closely with the cross-faculty Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics and I’m  involved in multidisciplinary research with colleagues across the University, UK and internationally.

Some current projects include:

  • Coupling of advanced biokinetic growth models (e.g. for algal growth, wastewater) with CFD for energy efficient process development (EPSRC Research Internship + other)
  • Theoretical and Experimental Modelling of Crystallisation of Actinide Salts from Impinging Liquid Droplets (EPSRC and National Nuclear Laboratory)
  • IAM-PM4OCF: Industrial application (modelling) of particle methods for open channel flows
  • ESTEEM2: Effective Student Teamwork for Engagement in Engineering Modelling (HESTEM)   

Clean, renewable and alternative energy Modelling

Alternative Fuel Combustion Research

An aspect of this research is concerned with using computational models and CFD to investigate the combustion of alternative fuels within gas turbines. The CFD modelling allows for the evaluation of aircraft combustors when bio- and synthetic- fuels replace standard jet fuel. This area of modelling takes advantage of new reaction mechanisms developed within the Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics for these fuels. A key aspect of this work is to improve the predictions of emissions for these new bespoke fuels. In this work it is critical to study different turbulence and combustion models to assess the accuracy of combustion phenomena predictions. The consequence of using these new fuels for aviation can then be further understood by taking the engine emissions as an input to climate models to help understand the impact of adopting different energy and fuel use strategies.  

Coupling of advanced biokinetic growth models (e.g. for algal growth, wastewater) with CFD for energy efficient process development

For example -Biogas energy production has become a significant growth area in the UK and internationally as strict targets for recycling and regulation enforce the extraction of energy from waste products where possible. As such, research into optimising bio-gas production is crucial to achieve successful large-scale systems. There are a number of considerations and problems involved in scaling experimental pilot plants. Such situations are well suited to CFD analysis to understand the flow and mixing behaviour within a reactor, where models can be successfully validated using the pilot plant and then used to aid predictions of mixing efficiency and gas production in the large-scale reactors. Complex 2-way coupled flow models are required to accurately predict both the behavior of the transient multiphase mixing and the associated reactions that occur in a reactor.   We are working to reliably couple the flow field to the biokinetic reactions to provide a tool that will allow comprehensive evaluation new reactors.  

Fuel cell research

We are involved in a broad range of experimental and theoretical fuel cell research on both PEM and SOFC devices. I have particular interest in the CFD modeling of PEM cells and the development of our own in-house fuel cells and associated test and experimental facilities. A current project involves a single PEM fuel cell stack that has been specially designed and fabricated to produce comparable data for our CFD models. Water management is being evaluated inside the flow-field channels using direct visualisation techniques. An aim of the current research is to develop a mathematical model to predict the performance of the PEM fuel cell with different geometries of gas distributors to improve water management inside the cell.

Meshless Methods


I apply the method of fundamental solutions (MFS) and other BEM approaches to solve numerically inverse problems which consists of finding unknown cavities within regions of interest, based on given boundary Cauchy data. Research is being undertaken to investigate applications where multiple complex geometry cavities need to be located using similar techniques – for example in EIT.  Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) is a technique in which an image of the permittivity, or conductivity, of the interior of an object is inferred from surface measurements of electrical phenomena. As a non-invasive technique, EIT can be of particular benefit when used for medical imaging. The process uses non ionising radiation, and therefore it is possible to use the procedure for continuous monitoring. The problem of recovering the conductivity information is a nonlinear and ill-posed inverse problem. As such, one of the current drawbacks to the technique is a low spatial resolution.


Smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) is a meshless approach that has advantages over other computational techniques for modelling multiphase flows that have a distinct interface between them. The prime example is water and air in open channel flows. 

Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering (IPHEE)

I am a member of the Institute for Public Health and Environmental Engineering (IPHEE) within the School of Civil Engineering. The Institute takes a global outlook in public health and environmental engineering, investigating the interactions between infrastructure, the environment and human health.

iPHEE Research


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I'm interested in learning and teaching appoaches that provide opportunities for students(particularly in the area of Engineering Mathematics and Mathematical Modelling) to engage with new materials in interactive and engaging ways. I currently manage the ESTEEM1 (Electronic Student Toolkit for Engagement in Engineering Mathematics)project that involves developing and evaluating new materials and approaches for education in Engineering Mathematics.

I currently hold a University of Leeds Education Fellowship that is allowing me to develop approaches for promoting modelling in Civil Engineering.

University Education Fellowship

Link to online repository of materials

I am currently the Faculty of Engineering Academic Champion for Blended and Digital Learning and chair the faculty BL committee. The group aim to support the sharing of practice across the faculty (and with wider university) and have responsibility for establishing the faculity's BL strategy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>