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Nature-Inspired Chaos Control of Multiphase Reactors

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, November 21, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description


The group of Professor M.-O. Coppens, Department of Chemical Engineering at University College London (UCL) is seeking a graduate student to work on Nature-Inspired Chaos Control of Multiphase Reactors, and in particular gas-solid fluidised beds, as part of the EPSRC-funded Centre for Nature-Inspired Engineering (CNIE). The PhD position advertised is supported by Synfuels China for four years. The project seeks inspiration from natural systems to intensify multiphase reactor operation. The PhD candidate will use and adapt a specially designed setup to investigate the effects of pulsation of the gas flow and structured internals, with self-organisation as well as external control, to impose structure on fluidised bed reactors.


Fluidised beds are a workhorse of the chemical and energy industry, and also used for drying and coating operations. By oscillating the gas flow to a fluidised bed, we have shown that a chaotic bubble pattern can be turned into a regular bubble array. Although discovered several years ago, it is only very recently at the CNIE that we have been able to understand the nature of these patterns by more extensive experimentation, and develop computational tools that show agreement with experimental patterns (conventional two-fluid modelling approaches fail, as they cannot cover the periodic transitions between fluid-like and denser, solid-like behaviour of the gas-solid suspension). We also showed that we could control bubble size and spacing in an unprecedented way, simply by tuning frequency and amplitude of the gas oscillation. In this project, using our fundamental expertise on the bubble hydrodynamics, we now wish to explore effects on heat and mass transfer, essential to chemical and physico-chemical processes. We also wish to study tools borrowed from chaos control theory to see how control loops could be employed to further tune transport phenomena and their effect on reactor performance.


The candidate will have or be expected to obtain a first degree (minimum 2:1, preferably 1st) in chemical engineering or an associated discipline. The ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment that tackles questions across various fields of sciences and engineering is expected. A comprehensive knowledge of multiphase reaction engineering and transport phenomena is required. Effective written and verbal communication, good time-management skills, and the ability to work in a team as well as independently are essential.

For further specifications, please view the Job Description on the UCL Jobs page: (Add link to the UCL jobs page for each studentship)

Funding Notes

£17,009 per annum + Overseas/UK/EU fees

To apply
1. Apply via this link – View Website
2. Select department – Chemical Engineering
3. Click Search Now
4. Click Apply Now on Programme Code RRDCENSING01
5. Register as a New User and submit your application, requesting Marc-Olivier Coppens as your supervisor.

If you have any queries regarding how to apply, please speak to Claire Saunders (EA to Professor Marc-Olivier Coppens) –

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