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EPSRC Reference: EP/R045046/1
Title: Probing Multiscale Complex Multiphase Flows with Positrons for Engineering and Biomedical Applications
Principal Investigator: Barigou, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Rosales, Dr Rafael Niederer, Dr SA Parker, Professor DJ
Blower, Professor P Marsden, Professor P Vanneste, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AstraZeneca Birmingham Childrens Hospital NHS FT Briggs of Burton PLC
Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharm Research UK Campden BRI City University of Hong Kong
GE Healthcare Guys Kings and St Thomas Imerys Minerals Ltd
Mondelez UK R and D Ltd Siemens Stanford University Medical School
Theragnostics Ltd Unilever (UK) University of British Columbia (UBC)
University of Cape Town University of Tennessee, Knoxville University of Wisconsin Madison
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 July 2018 Ends: 30 June 2024 Value (£): 5,765,129
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Multiphase Flow
Particle Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Food and Drink
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Energy
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
A vital challenge for modern engineering is the modelling of the multiscale complex particle-liquid flows at the heart of numerous industrial and physiological processes. Industries dependent on such flows include food, chemicals, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, oil, mining, river engineering, construction, power generation, biotechnology and medicine. Despite this large range of application areas, industrial practice and processes and clinical practice are neither efficient nor optimal because of a lack of fundamental understanding of the complex, multiscale phenomena involved. Flows may be turbulent or viscous and the carrier fluid may exhibit complex non-Newtonian rheology. Particles have various shapes, sizes, densities, bulk and surface properties. The ability to understand multiscale particle-liquid flows and predict them reliably would offer tremendous economic, scientific and societal benefits to the UK. Our fundamental understanding has so far been restricted by huge practical difficulties in imaging such flows and measuring their local properties. Mixtures of practical interest are often concentrated and opaque so that optical flow visualisation is impossible. We propose to overcome this problem using the technique of positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) which relies on radiation that penetrates opaque materials. We will advance the fundamental physics of multiscale particle-liquid flows in engineering and physiology through an exceptional experimental and theoretical effort, delivering a step change in our ability to image, model, analyse, and predict these flows. We will develop: (i) unique transformative Lagrangian PEPT diagnostic methodology for engineering and physiological flows; and (ii) innovative Lagrangian theories for the analysis of the phenomena uncovered by our measurements.

The University of Birmingham Positron Imaging Centre, where the PEPT technique was invented, is unique in the world in its use of positron-emitting radioactive tracers to study engineering processes. In PEPT, a single radiolabelled particle is used as a flow follower and tracked through positron detection. Thus, each component in a multiphase particle-liquid flow can be labelled and its behaviour observed. Compared with leading optical laser techniques (e.g. LDV, PIV), PEPT has the enormous and unique advantage that it can image opaque fluids, and fluids inside opaque apparatus and the human body. To make the most of this and image fast, complex multiphase and multiscale flows in aqueous systems, improved tracking sensitivity and accuracy, dedicated new radiotracers and simultaneous tracking of multiple tracers must be developed, and new theoretical frameworks must be devised to analyse and interpret the data. By delivering this, we will enable multiscale complex particle-liquid flows to be studied with unprecedented detail and resolution in regimes and configurations hitherto inaccessible to any available technique. The benefits will be far-reaching since the range of applications of PEPT in engineering and medicine is extremely wide.

This multidisciplinary Programme harnesses the synergy between world-leading centres at Birmingham (chemical engineering, physics), Edinburgh (applied maths) and King's College London (PET chemistry, biomedical engineering) to develop unique PEPT diagnostic tools, and to study experimentally and theoretically outstanding multiscale multiphase flow problems which can only be tackled by these tools. The advances of the Programme include: a novel microPEPT device designed to image microscale flows, and a novel medical PEPT validated in small animals for translation to humans. The investigators' combined strengths and the accompanying wide-ranging industrial collaborations, will ensure that this Programme leads to a paradigm-shift in complex multiphase flow research.
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk