Particle systems are ubiquitous both in industry and in our daily lives, from pharmaceuticals and bulk chemicals to agricultural products (rice, grains, flour) and formulated consumer goods (detergent powders, infant formula, instant coffee). A major challenge in industry is dealing with the multi-scale nature of particle systems; the behaviour of a large-scale industrial process ultimately depends on how individual particles interact with one another. Industrial surveys report that almost 10% of global energy is wasted because 40% of the capacity of industrial plants is lost due to undesired and misunderstood particle phenomena.
At present, simulation methods struggle to meet this challenge. Particle-scale modelling techniques provide a wealth of useful information, but for relatively small numbers of particles, so cannot be used to design, control or optimise an industrial-scale process in a robust way. Modelling techniques which can be applied at large scale lack the crucial physics originating from interparticle interactions.
The overarching research goal of TUSAIL is to establish physics-based modelling, starting from characterising a small amount of a powder, to predict the behaviour of large industrial unit operations and processes via reliable upscaling methodologies and tools, bridging the gap between micro-mechanics and the industrial scale. Four main unit operations will be considered: mixing, transport and discharge, milling and agglomeration. Three complementary upscaling approaches will be developed based on (i) population balance modelling (PBM), (ii) coarse-grained meso-particle methods, and (iii) coupling between discrete and continuum methods. Each of these three upscaling approaches forms a core work package (WP) of TUSAIL; similar numbers of early-stage researchers (ESRs) will contribute to each of these WPs. A fourth, overarching WP involves experiments at various length scales including single-particle characterisation tests and element tests for calibration, and lab-scale, pilot-scale and industrial-scale experiments for process validation. The interaction of the four scientific work packages and the participation of ESRs in them is graphically summarised in an interaction roadmap.