Particulate materials are the most manipulated substance on the planet, after water. They are of paramount importance to the chemical-pharmaceutical, agri-food, energy, high-tech manufacturing, mining, and construction industries.
However, their unique behaviour cannot be captured comprehensively in macroscopic (continuum) models, while microscopic (discrete) models are too inefficient to handle the enormous number of particles. This has so far prevented the development of efficient computational models for particulates, which already exist for fluids and solids. Hence, while cars and airplanes are nowadays designed on the computer, particulate-handling industries still rely on time-consuming and expensive experimentation.
To realise virtual prototyping of particulate processes, we will develop a novel multiscale approach, microscopically resolving regions where general macroscopic models fail. From these multiscale simulations, we extract efficient, application-specific macro-models and use them to understand and design innovative particulate-handling machinery. We will develop two timely applications in collaboration with industry: additive manufacturing, the future of many high-tech industries; and continuous granulation, an aspiration of the pharma industry. Rapid prototyping will be used to create miniature setups, enabling validation and calibration from a single experiment.
To achieve this goal we will combine our expertise in micro- and macro-modelling, coupling, open-source code development, model validation, and mesh refinement. The central pillar of this project is coarse-graining, an innovative new coupling technique, which we will use to integrate two highly-regarded open-source softwares, MercuryDPM and oomph-lib. Previously, both coarse-graining and MercuryDPM have been developed by Dr Weinhart.
The software we develop will speed-up the design and optimisation of numerous particulate-handling applications. Particulate handling is big business, with annual revenues of €660 billion, so even small improvements will lead to substantial benefits for many industries. All software will be released open-source, meaning immediate dissemination to academia and industry. This research programme is funded by a prestigious NWO VIDI grant.
A four-year, fully-funded PhD position is available now, to be filled as soon as possible. You will develop a virtual prototype (computational model) for continuous granulation, an important industrial unit operation. A multiscale approach will be used, combining a microscopic particle model for agglomeration with a macroscopic granular flow model. A population balance model will be used to track the growth of the agglomerates on the macroscopic level. A machine-learning approach will be used to calibrate the computation model with experimental data. Experimental validation and design optimisation will be done in collaboration with industrial partners. You will be supervised by Dr Weinhart (Principal Investigator) and Dr Cheng (Senior Postdoc), both of which are experienced scientists and have developed many of the tools applied in this project.
The software you develop and the data you take will be published open source, so other researchers can use and build upon your work, and industry can use your models without reimplementation. Therefore, this research project participates in the Twente Open-Science Platform, whose aim is to disseminate all research output of the PhD for reuse, rather than only publications.
At the end of your PhD you will:
be equipped with scientific knowledge on continuum mechanics, fluid mechanics and discrete particle mechanics,
know how to develop applications within a large open-source software project, including software management, documentation, and writing reusable code in C++.
have tailored scientific training in specialist areas, including computational modelling, multiscale techniques, experimental validation, and design optimisation.
have had the maximum opportunity for personal development, with transferable skills and studying within an industrial-academic network.
have participated regularly in top-class international conferences and seminars, expanding your professional network and disseminating your project results.
Graduates exhibiting these skills are extremely scarce and highly valuable to industry, particularly in the fields of process and mechanical engineering.
The ideal candidate has a MSc degree in mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, physics, or similar sciences, with outstanding study results. You have a strong interest in computational science, ideally in discrete, continuum, or multiscale simulations. A passion for code development is important, as you will be developing open-source software as part of large development team. You are fluent in English communication, quality-oriented and creative, eager to immerse yourself in new scientific disciplines, and ready to take on initiatives.
Please note: A Game-Based assessment will be also part of the selection procedure.