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Imaging flow through 3D printed porous media

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  • Full or part time
    Assoc Prof Daniel Holland
    Assoc Prof P Galvosas
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

3D printing has revolutionised product design in civil and mechanical engineering. We are now exploring how it can influence chemical engineering. A key challenge in many chemical engineering applications (heat exchangers, reactors, adsorption, chromatography) is to contact a fluid with a solid phase. These processes are typically achieved using fixed beds of randomly packed particles, or “porous media”. Chemical engineering design then involves maximising the heat and/or mass transfer rate, whilst minimising the pressure drop. However our design choices have traditionally been limited to changing the particle size and shape. 3D printing introduces new possibilities to the design of the solid phase, potentially enabling game changing performance in a variety of applications. This project seeks to understand how the design of the 3D printed structure influences the flow field within the reactor, and hence the heat and/or mass transfer and pressure drop.
The study of flow through porous media is challenging as it is opaque. Here we will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to enable direct visualisation of the flow field. MRI is a powerful technique, widely used in medicine. This project will develop MRI techniques to visualise the internal structure of 3D printed porous media and the flow through them. This project is largely experimental in nature. However, we anticipate flow channels with characteristic lengths that range from 10 mm to 10 m. Therefore, a key challenge for this project will be to resolve the full 3D flow field within these fine porous structures. The extraction of high spatial and temporal resolution information will require numerical skills including programming the instrument, image reconstruction, and image analysis.
This project is a collaboration between the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Victoria University of Wellington, in Wellington, New Zealand. The successful applicant will spend time in both facilities but will likely be based in Wellington most of the time.
The Candidate
We are seeking a self-motivated PhD applicant with an excellent academic record and strong written skills. The student will be expected to demonstrate outstanding ability in numerical methods, whilst maintaining a pragmatic engineering approach. The student will also need to demonstrate an aptitude to learn a broad range of new skills, including those outside their existing discipline.
Applicants should hold a minimum of a four year undergraduate degree (first or upper second-class), or preferably an MSc/ME in engineering, mathematics or physics. Applicants will need to meet all requirements for enrolment in the PhD programme at the University of Canterbury.

About the Biomolecular Interaction Centre
The Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) is a multi-disciplinary research centre dedicated to the study of molecular interactions critical to biological function. Understanding these interactions is central to a range of fundamental sciences, new treatments for disease and a wide range of highly functional products. BIC offers an excellent training environment and state-of-the-art equipment. This project offers the opportunity to work on a commercially significant project, funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Funding Notes

We are offering a stipend of NZD $27,500 per year (tax free) for three years. Funding is also available to cover tuition fees and research project consumable costs. Note: the successful candidate will need to apply to enrol at the University of Canterbury and must meet UC’s entry criteria. International candidates will also need to meet the English language requirements and, once given an offer of place, arrange for a NZ student visa. Information on UC’s entry requirements for PhD study is here


This project is part of a larger research program that will address all aspects of 3D printing in chemical engineering, from the design of the pore structure and solid materials, to the design of the 3D printers themselves. Hence you will be expected to interact with chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, biologists and materials scientists
Applicants please email d[email protected] with your CV, including at least two academic referees, a statement of your research interests and your university transcripts.

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