Fluid Mechanics of Cleaning and Decontamination

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Fluid Mechanics of Cleaning and Decontamination

Group Continuum Mechanics

Cleaning and decontamination processes are important in many applications: from the daily chores of doing the dishes (with or without a dishwasher), to ensuring clean hygiene in hospitals, the food industry, or pharmaceutical companies. Although a lot of research has been done in chemistry and chemical engineering to improve detergents and cleaning devices, much less work has been done on the modelling of the underlying physical and chemical processes. In some cleaning applications, such as the neutralisation of toxic chemicals after a spill, it is crucial to avoid using strong mechanical forces in order to prevent the dispersion of the toxic material in the environment. Instead, a localised dissolution process, aided by chemical reactions neutralising the material, is used. This PhD project will investigate the advection, diffusion and reaction processes involved in this scenario.

Through a combination of experiments and modelling work the student will study the influence of flow properties: such as the Reynolds number and the Péclet number; geometry: whether the material is attached to a permeable or impermeable surface; and chemical properties such as solubility, reactivity and diffusivity.

This project is directly motivated by industrial applications and will suit candidates interested in using mathematical approaches to solve real challenges. Suitable candidates should have experience in the lab or a keen interest to support theoretical work in fluid dynamics by experimental evidence.

Reference: Landel, Thomas, McEvoy & Dalziel (2016). Convective mass transfer from a submerged drop in a thin falling film, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 789: 630.


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