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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N016602/1
Title: Nano-Engineered Flow Technologies: Simulation for Design across Scale and Phase
Principal Investigator: Lockerby, Professor DA
Other Investigators:
Reese, Professor JM Emerson, Professor D Sprittles, Dr JE
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Group Limited AKZO Nobel Alcatel Lucent
European Space Agency (International) Jaguar Land Rover National Physical Laboratory
TotalSim Ltd (UK) University of Oxford Waters Corporation
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 January 2016 Ends: 31 December 2020 Value (£): 3,380,740
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fluid Dynamics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Energy
Water Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Healthcare Transport Systems and Vehicles
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Nov 2015 Programme Grant Interviews - 11 November 2015 (Engineering) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form


Over the next 25 years, society will face major challenges in health, transportation, energy and climate that will demand novel engineering solutions. Recent rapid advances in device and materials fabrication offer an important opportunity to help meet these challenges by enabling new technologies to be engineered down to the nanometre scale. Devices that manipulate fluids at the smallest scales exhibit complex and sometimes counter-intuitive phenomena that present novel scientific and technological opportunities. The scientific opportunity is to understand and model how the microscopic physics at and around phase interfaces drives the overall flow behaviour. The technological opportunity is to exploit this behaviour to design and manufacture devices with unprecedented capabilities. This research Programme is about uncovering the engineering science of flows that are intrinsically multiscale, and encapsulating this in efficient modelling software in order to enable the design of next generation technologies.

This Programme aims to underpin future UK innovation in nano-structured and smart interfaces by delivering a simulation-for-design capability for nano-engineered flow technologies, as well as a better understanding of the critical interfacial fluid dynamics. We will produce software that a) resolves interfaces down to the molecular scale, and b) spans the scales relevant to the engineering application. As accurate molecular/particle methods are computationally unfeasible at engineering scales, and efficient but conventional fluids models do not capture the important molecular physics, this is a formidable multiscale problem in both time and space. Our software will have embedded intelligence that decides dynamically on the correct simulation tools needed at each interface location, for every phase combination, and matches these tools to appropriate computational platforms for maximum efficiency.

The outcome will be a revolutionary new framework for simulating multiscale multiphysics systems in nature as well as engineering, greatly surpassing current modelling capabilities. The step-change advances this represents include:

- predictive simulations of engineering-scale systems with nanoscale fidelity;

- new insight into the physics of interfacial flow systems;

- computational resources allocated in-simulation to enable more rapid system analysis;

- assessment of proposed flow system designs that were not previously amenable to investigation;

- accessing trans-disciplinary applications in granular flows and avalanche dynamics, and social/economic systems including urban traffic modelling and financial market stability.

This work is strongly supported by 9 external partners, ranging from large multinational companies to an SME. The targeted applications all depend on the behaviour of interfaces that divide phases, and include: radical cancer treatments that exploit nano-bubble cavitation; the cooling of high-power electronics through evaporative nano-menisci; nanowire membranes for separating oil and water, e.g. for oil spills; and smart nano-structured surfaces for drag reduction and anti-fouling, with applications to low-emissions aerospace, automotive and marine transport. These applications make demands on simulation for engineering design that far outstrip current capabilities. Our partners will therefore be 'early-adopters' of this Programme's outcomes in order to meet the technical capabilities they will need to provide in the future.

This interdisciplinary research draws on techniques and results across the boundaries of applied mathematics, physics, mechanical engineering, and computing. Its timeliness lies in the convergence of a uniquely-qualified academic team with a group of engaged and committed industrial partners, who will work together to exploit current and emerging nano-engineered flow systems for societal and economic benefit to the UK and elsewhere.
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Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk