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Sustainable paper making using foam

This project is aimed at obtaining detailed mechanistic understanding of the foam-based papermaking process, including foam-fibre interactions and foam-mediated fibre-fibre interactions.

Number of places



30 May 2017


31 March 2018


3 years


Applicants should already have or be expecting to obtain a first class or upper second class degree in one of the above mentioned disciplines. Candidates trained to masters level are preferred, but exceptional candidates trained to bachelors level can also be considered. Applicants are expected to demonstrate strong mathematical and problem-solving skills, as well as experience and/or interest in fluid mechanics, numerical computation and computer programming.

Applications will be considered up to 15 January 2018. Those received before 30 April 2017 will be given priority. The proposed start date for the project is 01 February 2018. 

Project Details

Despite the advent of 21st century electronic communications, paper remains one of the most widely utilised materials in the world. Given the extremely large volume of paper production, even small percentage increases in the efficiency of the papermaking process can translate into massive sustainability gains.

Papermaking typically involves a suspension of fibres in water. Increasingly however, many communities around the globe are confronting the problems of water stress and/or water scarcity: reducing the water footprint of the papermaking process will help significantly to alleviate these issues.

One of the options for reducing this water footprint is to use foam rather than water as a carrier for the fibres. The process then involves a suspension of fibres in foam: design and operation of such foam-based papermaking processes remains a topic of active research.

This project under the supervision of Dr Paul Grassia is aimed at obtaining detailed mechanistic understanding of the foam-based papermaking process, including foam-fibre interactions and foam-mediated fibre-fibre interactions. Obtaining such understanding is far from straightforward because foams themselves are complex fluids. Fibres moving through the foam also generate flow fields which influence in turn the motion of nearby fibres. Because of the highly elongated shape of the fibres, they can have a strong influence on the flow, despite the actual volume fraction of fluid that they occupy remaining comparatively small.

All of these phenomena will be investigated in a computational modelling and simulation study of foam-fibre behaviour. The understanding thereby gained will be used to design improved foam-based paper-making optimised with respect to water use. Another advantage of the process to be designed is reduced energy expenditure during the drying process owing to less water being present.

The project will suit a student with a background in chemical engineering or a cognate discipline (e.g. physics, applied mathematics, mechanical engineering).

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.

Funding Details

This is a self-funded opportunity. Funding may be available for exceptional applicants. 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 (not including bench fees).

Contact us

Ms Jacqueline Brown

+44(0) 141 574 5319

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.