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PhD in Engineering - A pump for granular materials: replacing the auger in processes, drilling, and exploration

   College of Science and Engineering

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Granular materials include fuels, foods, and industrial feedstocks, and they are frequently encountered in drilling, exploration, and comminution. However, despite this ubiquity, they can be much more difficult to transport than other materials. Augers and screw conveyors can be used, as can bailing, gas-blowing, and vibro-conveyors, but all have issues related to some combination of complexity, inclination angle, and power, friction, or torque reaction.

We propose a new approach, using a recently developed device called the pulse-elevator. This device can lift granular media in a vertical direction without rotation, relatively-moving parts, or working fluids. It does not depend on friction, which reduces power-losses, and it appears to have a very high tolerance towards shock.

This project in an industrial PhD funded by Schenck Process, a world leader in bulk materials handling. Research will be carried out to characterize and optimize the performance of this device with a view in industrialization. Key priorities will be to determine the maximum height through which materials can be lifted, and the power requirement associated with doing so. The nominal target is a 4m lift, which will be attempted in a vertical test-stand. Process drivers such as repeatability, metering, and grade-separation will also be investigated.

In parallel, the supervisory team have experience of managing drilling projects for exploration in space and extreme environments. Because the pulse-elevator can fit within a drillstring, this work may have applicability in planetary research and ISRU where power and torque reaction is at a premium. The successful applicant will therefore be supported and encouraged to apply for access to variable-gravity environments, such as parabolic flights, to determine the effectiveness of the concept in space.


How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £16,062 for Session 2022-23).

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