A New Multi-Scale Paradigm for Particulate Flow

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science


Existing theories for particulate flow lack the robustness, predictability and flexibility required to handle the totality of phenomena that such flow may exhibit. Some unwanted industrial issues (such as particle agglomeration) and their management still remain an "art". Current practice is based mainly on ad-hoc models for each specific flow. I propose a novel approach, based on the combination of physical evidence and mathematical methods (statistical mechanics) that will lead to the formulation of a reliable theory applicable to industrial and natural phenomena. A successful theory will create a paradigm shift in the way particulate flow is modelled and will produce a tool that can be employed to substitute ad hoc models, hence avoiding a priori judgements of the flow conditions before selecting the appropriate model. The work proposed aims at bridging the gap between particle technology and rheology. It will result in devising a robust theory able to describe the meso-scale phenomena and link them to particle interactions. The theory will strongly rely on implementing accurate rheological measurement to validate the theory at the meso-scale and to assure a meaningful scale-up to the reactor scale. It will produce fundamental as well as user orientated research by developing a novel predictor which has the potential to significantly reduce production costs and improve the product quality in three areas important to the UK economy, namely pharmaceuticals, paints and detergents, valued at £200B per year

Planned Impact

This fellowship will strengthen the link between the particle technology, the rheology and the mathematic academic communities to develop a new paradigm to describe particulate flow rigorously. Validation of the results will impact on the development of a methodology and of a protocol for reliable measurements at the meso-level. The research is user-inspired and knowledge exchange represents a very significant component of the arrays of impact activities which will be undertaken. The immediate benefit of the research will be to unify the sparse efforts to characterise the flow of particulate materials and devise a predictor that could equally be used for academic research and industrial practice.
The fellowship will impact on the development of CFD codes that will be specifically developed for application in the process industry. The collaboration with DOE will imply access to their coding facilities, expertise and know-how. The collaboration with PSRI will make it possible to access their numerical expertise and to their sheer amount of data that they are willing to share (see letter of support). The resulting outcomes will impact on the CFD community. The link with CPI will impact stronghly of the manufacturing industry in the UK.
Finally, although the main aim of the fellowship is to focus on industrial problems which are found in the process industry, the results will be of relevance to cognate fields such as energy, global warming and public health. As an example, the work proposed can impact on the production of efficient filters for Black Carbon (filtration is less energy intensive that CO2 separation from the atmosphere). Consequently the work from this fellowship, has the potential to impact on particle emissions, legal regulations and public health.


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Reddy M (2019) Recasting Navier-Stokes equations in Journal of Physics Communications

Description How particles behave when interacting with other particles undergoing shear flow.
New experimental procedure to investigate particle flow.
Exploitation Route Publications and conferences.
Sectors Energy,Other

Description RAEng Report on Biofuels
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Description EPSRC Responsive
Amount £392 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R008027/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2021
Description S Pollack -RUB 
Organisation Ruhr University Bochum
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of a fluidized bed rheometer. I have provided advice and supervision to develop an instrument that can help understand the behavior of fluidized beds. We are writing a grant together.
Collaborator Contribution Provide a student working on the project. Provide a lab where the experiments can be undertaken. The student, Tobias Piepke, spent 4 months working in Edinburgh and a conference paper was produced.
Impact Development of a rheometer. C-supervision of a student. Ait Ali Yahia L., Piepke T.M., Pollak P., Maione R., Barrett R., Ozel A., Ocone R.1, Development of a new methodology for measurements of particle stresses in fluidized beds., Fluidization XVI, Guilin, China, May 26 - 31, 2019.
Start Year 2017