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Numerical Modelling of Melt Flows in Polymer Extrusion


Project Description

In polymer extrusion, the behaviour of the flow of materials along the screw shows highly variable nature as it is gradually changing from solid to molten state. There are a number of aspects that have not yet been well understood on processing of polymeric materials such as the contact between metal-polymer and polymer-polymer at the solid/molten state; the way of forming and progression of melt pools; conveying of solid materials in the equipment (friction, shear, formation and breakup of solid beds); clear correlation/s between materials properties or melt thermal quality and process energy consumption, etc. Hence, this project aims to understand the flow behaviour of an extruder via combining numerical/computational modelling techniques along with inputs from conventional empirical modelling. A computational algorithm to simulate the flow driven temperature evolution during the extrusion is required to formulate. Navier–Stokes formulations will then be applied in a fixed grid to solve energy, momentum and continuity equations addressing the algorithm. The temperature/pressure dependent properties of the melt will be incorporated the computations as polynomials of respective parameters (under incompressible flow regime). Extruder screw rotation and barrel heater parameters will be taken as inputs to define boundary conditions to the model. Contact behaviours between metal-polymer (at the solid and molten states) and polymer-polymer (at the solid state) will be incorporated to through empirical approach, based on experimental observations. Software codes will be developed to simulate varying process and material conditions. Then, the experimentally measured parameters (melt pressure and melt temperature) can be compared with the computational and empirical model predictions for verification and validation purposes.

Students with a First class/2.1 degree in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics or Materials Science subjects are encouraged to apply. A prior knowledge on polymer processing and an MSc in a related filed would also be desirable (but not essential). Experience in computer programming would also be preferable. The proposed start date is 1st October 2019.

Funding Notes

Project duration: 4 years, with 3 years for experimental work and 1 year for writing up.

Funding covers tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of at least the Research Council minimum (£14,777 for academic year 2019/20) for eligible UK and EU applicants. EU nationals must have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the programme to be eligible for a full award (fees and stipend).

We also welcome applications from self-funded students (worldwide).

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