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EPSRC supported PhD with integrated study: How Well Do Models of Particle Motion Represent Industrial Reality?

University of Birmingham

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Tax free bursary of £17,800 p.a, plus fees paid
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 20th January 2020
Closes: 19th April 2020

Dr Andrew Ingram ( Chem Eng, University of Birmingham )

An industrial consortium

Tax free bursary of £17,800 p.a, plus fees paid

Granular or particulate materials are common in nature and in process engineering, particularly as products such as instant foods, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods such as washing powders. Compared with simple fluids, they show interesting and useful behaviour, from kinetic free-flow in some circumstances to slow friction-dominated motion in others. In recent years there has been much progress in modelling their behaviour, particularly using the Discrete Element Method (DEM), in which each particle is considered separately and its interactions with its neighbours computed in order to predict its next position. Many industrial companies are now using such methods for design and process prediction but testing of such models against reality is difficult because the systems of interest are usually opaque and often held within metal-walled containers. This project will make use of a cutting-edge technique for tracking particle motion called Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT) to map particle behaviour in a set of experiments which will be simultaneously modelled using DEM. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop an industry-wide best practice for the application of DEM to industrial processes.

The work is collaborative with a number of industrial partners through the International Fine Particle Research Institute (IFPRI), a US-based organisation of international industrial members, many of whom will be actively participating in the work through their in-house modelling teams. The ideal candidate will have an interest in coding to develop protocols to enable processing and comparison of large data sets, as well as an interest in the physics and engineering of particulate systems.

To be eligible for EPSRC funding candidates must have at least a 2(1) in an Engineering or Scientific discipline or a 2(2) plus MSc. Please email your c.v. to For more details on the Engineering Doctorate scheme please visit      

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