Polymer Drag Reduction in Single Phase Turbulent Fluid Flows

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Chemical and Process Engineering


Process efficiency is at the forefront of scientific challenges due to the demand for lower global energy consumption. To achieve efficiency gains in "big-energy" processes, modifications of the chemical and physical properties are required. Chemical additives such as drag reducing agents, which are used to modify pipeline pressure drops, have undoubtedly led to reductions in overall pumping power requirements. However, the mechanism for drag reduction is not adequately understood due to a lack of attention given to the chemical-fluid interactions in the fluid and at the solid-liquid interface. The complexity of fluid turbulence and polymer dynamics has resulted in no obvious pathway for drag reduction optimization by chemical additives. Predicting the magnitude of drag reduction from polymer properties is not yet achievable.

Aims and Objectives:
The overall research aim is to better understand the mechanism(s) by which polymers promote drag reduction. Research objectives include: i) study the influence of polymer structure on the magnitude of drag reduction and the robustness of polymer to degradation; ii) consider the effects of polymer adsorption on solid surfaces, and its contribution to the overall drag reduction performance; iii) investigate the behaviour of polymers in the fluid boundary layer using a home-built Couette cell with particle imaging velocimetry; iv) complement experimental findings to those predicted via simulation.

Potential Applications and Benefits:
By developing a fundamental understanding of polymer drag reduction it will be possible to design smarter chemicals that deliver optimum drag reduction performance properties (high drag reduction, chemically robust in challenging environments, low additive concentrations). Reducing drag in fluids has broad application from large transport pipelines (crude oil) to small flow channels (micro-fluidics, cooling circuits etc.). Achieving optimum drag reduction will enable technology to advance where friction, pressure drop, currently impede performance and function.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509681/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2042717 Studentship EP/N509681/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2021 Stefanos Michaelides