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Modelling the structural statistics of jamming to enable predictive formulation and flow of high solids content suspensions

Improved understanding of the structural causes of jamming is the focus of this PhD project, using novel computer-simulation based structural methods linked to experimental statistical measurements.

Number of places

1

Opens

4 August 2017

Duration

3 years

Eligibility

 Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

Project Details

When suspensions of solid particles in a fluid are transported at high particle concentration major problems often occur, such as catastrophic thickening or ‘jamming’ and highly erratic and apparently uncontrollable flow. In industries ranging from ceramics and paint manufacture to drilling muds in oil extraction, these problems mean unreliable product quality and unpredictable process failure.

Recent work has shown that despite this apparent unpredictability, such erratic jamming flows do follow meaningful statistical ‘rules’ which could be used to design better processes and products. Improved understanding of the structural causes of jamming is the focus of this PhD project, using novel computer-simulation based structural methods linked to experimental statistical measurements.

The PhD dovetails with a collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and a range of companies including Johnson Matthey, AkzoNobel, Dupont and Schlumberger. The candidate will explore the fundamentals of how erratic flow and stress-driven transient jamming occur in high solids content particulate suspension flow, and thus how to develop engineering methods to improve flow reliability.

The project will impact a very wide range of fields and processes, including powder flows and slurries in chemical processes, formulation and manufacture of particle-based products such as foods and ceramics, the stability of soils and sediments in geology, and even the flow of blood cells in arteries and pedestrians in crowded environments. Such systems present many common puzzles and challenges, such as jamming followed by catastrophic collapse (e.g., earthquakes, eruptions, landslides), erratic fluctuations (e.g., blood clots and strokes) and pattern formation (e.g., stratified sediments, segregation in powders). The project thus crosses many engineering and manufacturing sectors and academic disciplines.

Using existing computer models of particle flow, but developing new methods of analysis through local structural measures and how they scale up to the structural and flow response at the size of the whole system, the research will determine when ‘solid’ particle configurations appear, how this depends on flow geometry, concentration, flow rate, particle interactions, fluid viscosity/viscoelasticity, etc, and how we can develop statistical analyses to interpret apparently unpredictable fluctuations and develop reliable control methods and strategies.

The project builds on recent high-impact publications on particle network stability and geometry induced jamming and unjamming. Results will both maximise our understanding of the fundamentals, vital for future innovative engineering, and help identify potential strategies to improve efficiency and controllability of real processes involving suspensions.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Key words: Rheology, Multiphase, solids processing, formulation, clogging, jamming, slurry, suspension

Funding Details

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates will be eligible to be considered for a University scholarship. Tuition fees for 2017 for postgraduate research students at the University of Strathclyde are £4,195 for Home/EU students and £18,000 for international students. This does not include bench fees.

Contact us

Ms Jacqueline Brown

+44(0) 141 574 5319

chemeng-pg-admissions@strath.ac.uk

James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow, G1 1XJ

How to apply

Apply for this PhD project here.

Please quote the project title in your application.