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Development of DEM Particle Methods for the Mitigation of Erosive Wear in Turbomachinery


   Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


About the Project

This project will investigate the use of CFD-Discrete Particle Methods to investigate the improved prediction of erosion in slurry pumps. Modelling, laboratory testing and the development of new wear mapping techniques will be investigated to develop better design tools.

The erosive wear of hydraulic equipment for the transport of slurries (liquid-solid particle mixtures) is an ongoing issue which leads to excessive damage and reduced equipment life.

While the most common approach to mitigation has been through material selection, the role of using CFD-based modelling to predict the fluid flow and solid particle behaviour promises to provide a hydraulic design approach to reducing the effect of wear through component design or by altering operational conditions.

In this project, the development of CFD-based models for the analysis of turbomachinery, specifically pumps will be pursued. A range of fluid models for liquid-particle systems have been developed in recent years using different conceptual approaches and with different constraints and limitations (Euler-Lagrange, volume averaging, statistical-based kinetic theory).

Some of these have been applied to wear environments and have been validated for relatively simple flow systems, however, very limited applications exist for pumps with any level of robust validation occurring. This is not surprising given the complexity of fluid dynamics of rotational machinery and the combined effect of both particle impact and abrasive erosion mechanisms occurring.

Thus, it is the key aim of the project to establish the feasibility of using current fluid particle modelling approaches to capture these erosion mechanisms.

Of particular focus will be the use of Discrete Element Methods (DEM) coupled with CFD techniques. These relatively new techniques allow the particle-wall interactions to be modelled properly and importantly for high particle concentrations, the particle-particle behaviour to allow the highly abrasive behaviour to be captured at the pump volute walls.

While particle behaviour is important, how to capture the surface damage is equally necessary to establish a design approach. Here the promising use of wear mapping, where experimentally determined material damage and locally predicted particle characteristics will be considered to establish generally applicable relationships for material removal.

It is within this context that the project will set out to answer a number of research questions to establish a robust DEM based pump design tool.

  • using hybrid modelling approach how best can high particle concentrations and a polydispersed mixture with a wide particle size range be used if with a combination of Euler and DEM approaches.
  • wear in pump systems involve multiple mechanisms so how are these mechanism to be untangled to build appropriate models and then establish the synergy when the mechanisms act together.
  • with the intention to test real pumps under experimental wear conditions how should the pump be tested to determine detailed validation of the models.

These three key considerations will drive the research project forward through a model development and experimental programme. The model development will use the Star-CCM+ software as a platform to investigate the issues.

Eligibility:

  • BEng/MEng/MSc in Mechanical/Aerospace/Chemical engineering at first class/distinction level
  • a background or interest in engineering fluid dynamics and computational tools

Funding Notes

Tuition fees are funded at UK home level, with stipend for the full 3 year period of study. International students are welcome to apply, but must be able to provide the additional funds to meet the international fee requirements).
The stipend for the 2022/23 academic year is currently £16062 and is subject to increase each academic year. The stipend is paid monthly to the student.
The project is partly funded by the Weir Group and Weir Group engineers will have direct input in supporting the project with in-house expertise.

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