Modelling and simulation of the agglomeration of settling particles under shear in dewatering processes


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    The goals of this project are to:

  • Develop a discrete multiphysics (DMP) simulation tool for particle agglomeration under shear.
  • Link this DMP simulation tool with the dewatering theory to optimize the dewatering system.

The details

Solid-liquid separation, also called dewatering, is involved in plenty of industries, including minerals, milk, pharmaceuticals, and wastewater treatment. Typically, a large volume of liquid as waste with suspended solids has been produced by these factories. Dewatering system optimization is likely to significantly improve the environmental impact and economic prospects of these industries due to reductions in water use and waste volume.

Modern dewatering theory can efficiently predict the dewatering behaviour of suspensions in one dimension. However, it fails in more complex environments (three-dimensions).

It is understood that the shear can influence the settling behaviour of a particle suspension. Experiments to explore the influence of shear on the evolution of aggregate structure indicate that an optimal shear rate exists. However, the extent to which shear affects the aggregate structure (densification or breakage) has not been quantitatively studied. The computational simulation is considered a particularly good tool to quantitatively investigate this shear effect above.

In this PhD research project, by linking a discrete multiphysics simulation tool with the dewatering theory, we hope to be able to predict the dewatering performance more accurately and then optimize the design of the dewatering system.

Graduate researcher profile: Yunzhou Qian


What did you do before you started your PhD?

Before I started my joint-PhD study in 2020 at the University of Melbourne and the University of Birmingham, I obtained a master's degree at the University College London (UK). During my master's study, I had a better understanding of fluid dynamics and deepened my programming language (C++).

What are the challenges of your research role?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my joint-PhD study had the following challenges: Firstly, I had to work remotely from home. Because I needed to use the university remote supercomputer frequently via University VPN, this made my network speed very slow and seriously affected my work efficiency.

Secondly, when debugging code, sometimes I get into trouble, and it is difficult to find the cause of the error. It is often necessary to reconsider the structure of the entire code and try to adjust various numerical parameters to solve it.

What is the best part of your research role?

The best part is to be able to discuss cutting-edge scientific issues with professional supervisors and have the opportunity to make our own contributions in a certain field.

The study of solid-liquid separation in two universities has allowed me to understand it not only from experimental aspects but also from computational simulations.

I hope that I can enter the campus of the University of Melbourne in the coming year and visit the natural scenery of Victoria or Australia in my free time.

Where do you wish to go after your PhD? Do you want to enter industry or continue doing more research?

I hope to find a position in a scientific research institution. I am very interested in exploring unknown knowledge and hope to contribute to my research field.

Supervision team

First published on 19 May 2022.

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