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Modelling of cleaning and decontamination problems on porous and absorbent substrates


   Department of Mathematics

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  Dr J Landel  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Cleaning and decontamination processes of surfaces can rely on different mechanisms to remove an unwanted patch of substance attached to a substrate. This project investigates decontamination of such a patch through dissolution or convective mass transfer of the substance into a cleansing fluid flow. The process may also include neutralisation of the substance by a chemical reaction, for example. Several applications rely on this process, particularly when the dispersion of the substance is undesirable, such as in the decontamination process of toxic chemical spills following industrial accidents, or following terrorist attacks.

The case where the substrate is impermeable has been studied previously (e.g. Landel et al. J. Fluid Mech. 789:630, 2016). In this new project, we will investigate the impact of the substrate being permeable. Most materials are porous (e.g. concrete, bricks, wood) or absorbent (e.g. plastics), and the contaminant and cleanser can flow or diffuse into the substrate. To explore how this affects the decontamination process, we will develop numerical simulations of the governing transport equations (typically the Darcy’s porous flow equation and the advection-diffusion-reaction equation) complemented by some simple experiments looking at absorption processes in various substrates. An exciting aspect of this project, the PhD student will also collaborate with researchers based at the University of Cambridge, who will focus more on the experimental investigation of these problems, with a view to increasing the physical insight and providing validation for the numerical models. The project is directly motivated by real-world scenarios. The PhD student will have the opportunity to discuss their research with an industrial partner for their application.

The project is suitable for an enthusiastic and creative candidate who has good grounding in fluid mechanics and some experience in the numerical simulation of partial different equations. Experience in laboratory experimentation is desired by not necessary.

Funding Notes

Funding for 3.5 years is available and will cover fees and stipend for home/EU students. The stipend is set at £3000 per year above that provided by EPSRC.
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