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PhD Studentship: The Application of Positron Emission Particle Tracking to the Mixing of Complex Particle-Liquid Systems

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 11th February 2019
Closes: 30th April 2019

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

Funding is available to fully support a PhD research student.  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 related discipline (e.g. Mechanical Eng.).  Suitably qualified non-EU students may apply for this project but only if they have full funding to support their studies.  Enquiries about the research project should be addressed to Professor M. Barigou; email:

The proposed research is concerned with the use of the novel non-invasive technique of Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT) to study particle-liquid suspensions in mechanically agitated reactors.  PEPT is unique in flow visualisation terms, being able to examine flow phenomena in three dimensions that could not be observed as effectively by using other techniques.  PEPT uses a single positron-emitting particle as a flow tracer which is tracked in 3D space and time to reveal its full Lagrangian trajectory.  It is particularly useful for the study of multiphase flows, to map the flow of fluids and the flow of particles, where one component can be labelled and its behaviour observed.  The method allows probing of opaque fluids and within opaque apparatus, a distinct advantage over other advanced optical methods such as LDV or PIV.

Mechanically agitated vessels are ubiquitous in industry including the manufacture of fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, personal/home care products, paper and pulp, polymers, food, and the formulation of products for these sectors.  Their design, however, is still often as much an art as a science and for many applications, it cannot be carried out from first principles.  In particular, numerous difficult mixing problems are found with particle-liquid processing.  There are many important topics that either have not been studied at all or if they have, many questions still exist so that even empirical solutions are lacking in physical insight.  For a number of these topics, PEPT provides ways of investigating them experimentally and of providing data that can be compared with predictions from Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) or other computational modelling techniques.  It is proposed to investigate a selection of such topics during this project.  The work will also address, as appropriate, theoretical/modelling aspects of the project in collaboration with the other partners, which may include numerical simulations (e.g. CFD) depending on the candidate’s background and interests.

The work includes collaboration via a large EPSRC Programme Grant with King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh, and there are opportunities for industrial collaboration with various companies.  We would like to link a PhD project to this research programme, thus providing a unique opportunity for the student to work alongside and interact with a number of experienced postdoctoral research fellows.

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