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Numerical investigation on the dependence of washcoats viscosity on ionic strength and particle loading

Department of Chemical Engineering

Saturday, October 31, 2020 Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project


The UCL Department of Chemical Engineering is one of the top research and teaching departments in the UK and has world-class standing. The department offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and has an extensive research portfolio across a wealth of areas, from the molecular scale to the scale of industrial plants. It hosts 27 academics whose research is collaborative, ground-breaking and focused on solving societal problems.
Within the Multiphase Systems group, the UCL Department of Chemical Engineering is seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated post-graduate student to research the rheological behavior of washcoats. This project is in collaboration with Johnson Matthey, a global science and chemicals company with strong focus on research & development. The post-holder will have the opportunity of sharing results and ideas with the industrial partner and collaborate with its research team.
Understanding of multiphase flows and numerical codes for multiphase simulations is desired - but not essential - because it will be developed during the project.
The post is fully funded (stipend and fees) for 3.5 years.


Washcoats are dispersions of solid particles in ionic aqueous solutions. These dispersions are used to impregnate catalytic converters with catalysts, a process in which the dispersion viscosity plays a key role. Some experimental rheological data, in the form of viscosity versus shear rate, are available for some of these systems, but their rheological behaviour, and particularly the dependence of their viscosity on concentration of ions and solid volume fraction, is still poorly understood. Understanding this dependence and developing rheological models for washcoats using numerical simulations and multiphase models based on fundamental science are the goals of this project. This work will provide the insight and quantitative methods for controlling the viscosity of washcoats.
The scope of this studentship is practical, but the research is fundamental. The research question is how the ion concentration in the solvent of the dispersion (via the interparticle forces that the ions induce) and the particle loading (via the fluid-particle interactions and the fluid-mediated interactions between the particles) affect the effective viscosity of the dispersion.
The post-holder will learn how to use multiphase numerical codes (Discrete Element Methods and Computational Fluid Dynamics), and postprocess and interpret the results of the simulations, which will be validated against experimental data.
The techniques and skills are transferable to technological problems relevant to several industrial sectors, including healthcare, cosmetics, catalysis and food industries.
The post-holder will present the research results at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journal articles of high international standing.


The successful candidate will have completed a first-class degree at the MEng or MSc level in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Physics or a related discipline.
The successful candidate will be a dedicated student, preferably with advanced understanding of transport phenomena and research methods.
Willingness to perform independently, yet within a collaborative environment, is a must.
Demonstrable knowledge of research methods and Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations is desirable but is not a necessary requirement.

Funding Notes

First-class degree at the MEng or MSc level is required.
Funds are only available to cover UK fees.
EU students who have been in the UK for 4 years will also be considered.
The successful candidate is expected to start in 04/01/2021

Applications should be submitted here: View Website

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