Development of kinetic theory-based models for modelling of adhesive granular flows

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Fluidized bed reactor systems find numerous applications in a variety of industries including Pharmaceutical, Chemical, Food Processing and Oil & Gas applications.

MRes | MPhil | PhD | MSc by Research
Start Date
Usually February and October - at individual School's discretion


Fluidized beds are basically multiphase systems comprising dilute and dense pockets of particles which are aerated by passing a carrier gas through it. In the context of Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (FCC) reactors, the catalyst particles are charged due to attrition resulting from repeated collisions and theri sizes span several order of magnitude. The charged particles are prone to agglomeration due to the Van der Waals effect. Clustering of particles could also be induced by the turbulent eddies in the gas medium in conjunction with the electrical properties of the particles. Clustering of particles has a significant effect on the contact time between the gas and particle phases and thus the efficient of the reactor. A tractable approach to model such systems is to treat the particle phase as a pseudo-fluid with its own thermodynamic properties (viscosities and pressure), typically referred to as the Kinetic-Theory Granular Flow (KTGF) approach. The different agglomeration process mentioned above result in agglomerates interacting with each other. The aim of the present research is to extend the KTGF framework to account for collision between these particle-like entities.

The proposed project will improve understanding of the scale of agglomerates formed during particle clustering processes in these reactors. Further, the research will investigate the effect of particle clustering on the macro-scale fluctuations i.e. turbulent kinetic energy of the particle phase.

The proposed research methodology is a mix of fully-resolved simulations using the immersed boundary method (IBM) and macro-scale averaged simulations using the KTGF approach. A data-driven approach will be undertaken to close the terms in the KTGF model accounting for adhesion between particles using the fully resolved simulations. The attractive feature of the proposed methodology is that it can be extended to incorporate further parameters such as surface roughness of the particles. Developing reliable macro-scale models will enable full-scale analysis of fluidized bed systems including ancillary components like cyclones and stand-pipes. This will enable rapid translation of learnings from pilot-scale systems to efficiency improvements in full-scale reactors.


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Normal entry requirements are a first or upper second class honours degree from a University of the United Kingdom, or from an overseas University, or degree equivalent qualification, subject to the approval of Robert Gordon University.

Applicants holding other qualifications shall be considered on their merits and in relation to the nature and scope of the proposed research programme. 

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For Academic Year 2022/2023

UK/EU Students

  • Full time - £4,596 per academic year
  • Part time MPhil/PhD - £2,760 per academic year
  • Part time MRes/MSc by research - £2,298 per academic year

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  • Full time - £17,000 per academic year
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Our Research degrees usually start in February and October each year. There are no formal deadlines for you to submit your application, though we recommend you submit it as early as possible in order to ensure we can help you join us at your preferred time. 

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For applicants whose first language or language of university education is not English, applications must include:

  • Certificate of English language competency score of IELTS 6.5 and 6.5 in all elements, or an approved equivalent. 
  • Students who can demonstrate successful completion of tertiary (university or college) studies in a country whose national language is English, may be exempted from this requirement.

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