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A soft sensor for die melt temperature profile prediction of polymer extrusion

Project Description

Polymeric materials play a major role in production industry and hence advanced process monitoring is invaluable for improving the product quality and process efficiency. Extrusion is a fundamental method of processing polymeric materials. An extruder is a machine which processes materials by conveying it along a screw and forcing it through a die at a certain pressure. The main function of an extruder is to deliver a homogeneous, well mixed polymer melt at a specified uniform temperature and pressure. Currently, there are no industrially well-established techniques for online measurement/prediction of the die melt temperature profile and viscosity of the melt output. Hence, this project aims to first explore the existing melt temperature and viscosity monitoring techniques used in polymer processing and then propose novel, industrially-compatible techniques for online monitoring of melt viscosity and melt temperature profile across the die. Initially, the efficacy of the novel techniques will be explored via simulation and then will be tested on a medium scale industrial extruder with commonly used polymeric materials. The aim is that the newly proposed techniques should facilitate advanced process monitoring and hence to the development of advanced control strategies to optimize the process energy efficiency and product quality.

The duration of the project is three and half years, with three years for experimental work and 6 months for writing up, and a maximum of four years for PhD thesis submission. The proposed starting date is 1st October 2019.

Students with a First class/2.1 degree in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics or Materials Science subjects are encouraged to apply. A prior knowledge on polymer processing and an MSc in a related filed would also be desirable (but not essential). Experience in computer programming would also be preferable.

Funding Notes

Funding covers tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of at least the Research Council minimum (£14,777 for academic year 2019/20) for eligible UK and EU applicants. EU nationals must have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the programme to be eligible for a full award (fees and stipend). Self-funded students are also welcome (world wide).

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