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PhD Studentship: Processing of High Surfactant Content Powders

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Competition-funded project open to students worldwide
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th May 2022
Closes: 20th June 2022

Within the Unilever Beauty and Personal Care (BPC) portfolio, products with a wide range of rheological and physical properties can be found which can be defined by their specific microstructure which includes complex fluids and solid product formats. Much research is actively being conducted of processing of complex fluids, yet comparatively limited research is dedicated to the field of solid product formats. The proposed research project aims to gain better understanding of the processing challenges for this format, in particular powder and granulated systems.

The manufacture of BPC products is achieved through the sequential addition of raw materials in a defined order, specified rates of addition and controlled temperature profiles. Thus, there are two attributes which vary throughout the manufacturing process of BPC products: (1) increasing mass within the batch vessel and (2) variations in rheological and physical properties for each of the intermediate stages, affected by the composition and processing conditions. These two attributes will impact the achievable mixing intensity and efficiency, as well as mix characteristics within the vessel.

This, in turn, affects product quality in terms of both physical properties (e.g., particle size, flowability, etc) and performance (i.e., dissolution), energy requirements and overall process optimisation. The proposed research project aims to explore these three effects for the processing of high surfactant content powders (impact of manufacturing conditions, variations in physical properties of resultant product, and product performance).

This can be achieved through use of dynamic torque measurements and flow characterisation techniques, such as positron emission particle tracking (PEPT), and a range of powder characterisation techniques. In addition, the project will explore the numerical simulation space to identify an approach that would allow tracking the evolution of the vessel level and product rheology throughout the process, using experimental results for validation.

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