PhD Studentship: Flow of Gas-Liquid Foams Through Complex Passages

University of Birmingham

School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.

Gas-liquid foams are ubiquitous in our daily life and in industry. Applications range from food, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, polymers and ceramics to fire-fighting, enhanced oil recovery, and mineral particle transport. Recently, applications have also emerged in the medical field such as foam sclerotherapy of varicose veins and expanding polymer foam for treating brain aneurysms. 

In many industrial processes foams are forced to flow through intricate passages, into vessels with narrow complex cross-sections or through nozzles. Examples include flow of aerated confectionary in narrow channels and complex moulds, dispensing ice cream through a nozzle, filling of cavities with insulation foam, flow of foamed cement slurries in narrow oil-well annuli, filling of hollow aerofoil sections with polyurethane foam to make aerodynamic tethers for communication and geoengineering applications, and production of pre-insulated pipes for district heating. These flows are typified by contractions and expansions which generate complex phenomena that can have important effects on foam structure and flow, and can lead to dramatic instabilities and morphological transformations with serious practical implications for foam sustainability during flow and processing. 

Here, the flow characteristics of the foam at bubble scale are important, but the topological changes incurred and their effects on the rheology and flow of the foam are poorly understood. This proposal seeks to address this lack of understanding by studying experimentally, using a range of diagnostic techniques a number of fundamental aspects related to the flow, stability and behaviour of three-dimensional foams through channels containing a variety of complex geometries. The flow of aqueous foams with formulations of varying degrees of complexity will be studied.  The effects of scale will be studied using microfluidic flow circuits and associated visualisation facilities.

The studentship will be funded by EPSRC DTA. The candidate should be a UK/EU citizen and should have at least a strong upper second-class (2.1) degree in Chemical Engineering or Applied Sciences.  Non-EU students may apply for this project if they have full funding to support their studies. Enquiries about the research project should be addressed to Professor M. Barigou; Email:

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Midlands of England