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Modelling growth, deposition and breakage of dynamic particle structures (EPS2020/52)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Investigation of the structure of cohesive powders under various flow regimes. Combining AI driven tools with state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and discrete element methods (DEM), we will look into how dynamic particle structures form in complex systems: how clusters appear, deposit and evolve by a continuous interplay of consolidation and breakage.

Complex particle flows and a universal description of the mechanics of discrete media are fundamental open questions in particle technology with a wide scientific and industrial significance. In this project, we will create a multi-scale mathematical and computational platform to describe how powders self-organise under the action of various cohesive forces e.g. van der Waals, liquid bridges, electrostatics. We will investigate the dynamics of clustering and how multilayer structures form by a combination of particle deposition, consolidation and breakage phenomena. The scope of the work will cover all the regimes of granular flow transitioning from (packed) frictional flows dominated by multi-particle force chains to (dense) collisional flows driven by instantaneous particle-particle impacts and (dilute) kinematic flows where the interaction with the carrier fluid plays a critical role. Computational and experimental data will be combined to create a hybrid modelling platform making use of functional engineering models and AI assisted tools to predict how a dynamic structure appears, evolves and reacts to the action of external forces.

This work will support new theoretical advancements and the design of more efficient, robust technology able to manipulate the structure of particle systems in response to a changing environment. Its potential applications expand from the intensification of processes in the manufacturing and energy industries, to the formulation of new products and smart devices targeted to consumer goods, environmental and biomedical sectors.


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). Our scholarships are usually only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC, however some scholarships are available for exceptional overseas candidates.

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online - https://hwacuk.elluciancrmrecruit.com/Admissions/Pages/Login.aspx

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Mechanical engineering PhD, chemical engineering PhD or Bio-engineering and Bio-sciences PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be approx. £15k per year and full fees will be paid for 3 years.

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