Micro & Nano Flows for Engineering

The micro & nano flows group is a research partnership between the Universities of Warwick and Edinburgh, and Daresbury Laboratory. We investigate gas and liquid flows at the micro and nano scale (where conventional analysis and classical fluid dynamics cannot be applied) using a range of simulation techniques: molecular dynamics,  extended hydrodynamics, stochastic modelling, and hybrid multiscaling. Our aim is to predict and understand these flows by developing methods that combine modelling accuracy with computational efficiency.

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.

 

EPSRC Programme Grant in Nano-Engineered Flow Technologies

Our work is supported by a number of funding sources (see below), including a 5-year EPSRC Programme Grant (2016-2020). 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 scientific 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. The software we develop 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.

This work is strongly supported by nine external partners (see below).

Current Funding

  • “Nano-Engineered Flow Technologies: Simulation for Design across Scale and Phase” EPSRC Programme Grant EP/N016602/1 01/16-12/20 (£3.4M)
  • “The First Open-Source Software for Non-Continuum Flows in Engineering” EPSRC grants: EP/K038427/1 K038621/1 K038664/1 07/13-06/17 (£0.9M)
  • “Multiscale Simulation of Interfacial Dynamics for Breakthrough Nano/Micro-Flow Engineering Applications” ARCHER Leadership Project 11/15-10/17 (£60k in supercomputer computational resource)
  • “Skating on Thin Nanofilms: How Liquid Drops Impact Solids” Leverhulme Research Project Grant 08/16-08/19 (£146k funding a 3-year PDRA)

Partnerships

  • Airbus Group Ltd
  • AkzoNobel
  • Bell Labs
  • European Space Agency
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • National Physical Laboratory
  • Oxford Biomedical Engineering (BUBBL)
  • TotalSim Ltd
  • Waters Corporation

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Latest news and blogs

Dr. Duncan Lockerby

Prof. Duncan Lockerby, University of Warwick

This week, Warwick welcomes two post-doctoral researchers Livio Gibelli and Juan Padrino. Livio has a long track record in the development and applications of kinetic theory; he joins us from Politecnico de Torino. Juan has made contributions to a broad range of fields, in particular, potential-flow modelling of viscous fluids; he joins us from Los Alamos National Laboratory. This is a picture of the whole Warwick team together after Juan and Livio's welcome lunch...

Welcome to Mike and Chengxi, who earlier this month started their PhD journey with the Micro & Nano Flows group at Warwick. Mike has a systems and software engineering background, and Chengxi has a variety of experience in computational fluid dynamics. Both will be focussing on aspects of nanoscale interfacial dynamics, drawing on a range of computational tools (e.g. from DSMC to MD).

Jason Reese has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) upon the recommendation of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. The number of APS Fellows elected each year is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the total membership, so this is a prestigious recognition of Prof Reese’s outstanding contributions to the physics of fluids. 

The citation from the APS recognises Prof Reese “for original contributions to multiscale fluid dynamics research, unique work in rarefied gas dynamics, pioneering hybrid modelling, and simulation methods for flows at the micro- and nanoscales.”

The American Physical Society was founded in 1899 “to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics”. It publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the prestigious ‘Physical Review’ and ‘Physical Review Letters’, and organises more than twenty science meetings each year. The APS conducts extensive programs in education, public outreach, and media relations; APS divisions and topical groups cover all areas of physics research. Forums reflect the interests of its over 53,000 international members in broader issues, and sections are organised by geographical region.

Dr Anirudh Rana, Research Fellow, University of Warwick

    It has been over three months since I became a part of Mathematics Institute at University of Warwick and this Micro Nano Flows for Engineering group--what a very pleasant and learning experience. 
    I had the opportunity to visit the Nokia Bell Labs in Dublin (with a legacy of eight Nobel prizes) with Dr. James Sprittles and Prof. Duncan Lockerby to explore start-of-the-art physical understanding of liquid-vapor phase transitions. It was a great educational experience how various surface structures such as nanopores can be used to manipulate these processes to improve heat transfer performance. Thanks to our host Dr. Ryan Enright at Nokia Bell Labs (and of course Duncan and James), I get to explore some nice steakhouse, restaurants and pubs in Dublin under stars. 
    The visit from Prof. David Emerson from Daresbury Laboratory was inspiring. 
    Last week, it was our pleasure to host Prof. Manuel Torrilhon from RWTH Aachen in Germany for two days (16-17 November) at University of Warwick. On 16th, after some stimulating discussions and brain storming session with our group at University of Warwick, Prof. Torrilhon shared his point of view on "Modelling of Non-Equilibrium Gas Flows Based on Moment Equations". Below is a picture of Manuel working on fundamental solutions: 

Alexander Patronis

Dr Alex Patronis, Research Fellow, University of Warwick

An interesting article I just found:

http://news.mit.edu/2016/carbon-nanotubes-water-solid-boiling-1128

Dr Mykyta Chubynsky, Research Fellow, University of Warwick

So it's been three months since I arrived in the UK and started my work at Warwick. The first week or so was spent choosing the first project to work on. While the grant I am paid from is, formally at least, for studying drop impact on a solid surface, it makes sense, especially for a newbie like myself, to start with something simpler that still includes the same ingredients: a free-surface liquid flow, a non-equilibrium gas flow and their interactions. So after a few discussions with James and Duncan, I decided to start with collisions between drops, still a remarkably rich problem with some open questions. Next I had to choose a computational tool to use. As always, you can write your own code, which gives you maximum flexibility but takes time. Or you can use something written by others, which gives you an easy start, but you may well encounter serious obstacles later on. As I was eager to start quickly, I decided that I would rather try the latter possibility and settled on FreeFem++, finite element software written by F. Hecht from Paris. It has a built-in mesh generator with the possibility of anisotropic mesh adaptation, several linear algebra solvers, and you just need to specify your PDE in the weak form -- FreeFem++ generates the corresponding set of finite-element equations, solves it and produces graphical output for you. So a simple problem like droplet oscillation takes just a dozen lines or so in the built-in scripting language. Of course, once you do something more complicated, it becomes increasingly hard to use, so, unsurprisingly, by now my code is much longer than that and I am likely to decide to switch to something else eventually. But I don't regret starting with FreeFem++ -- it has been a good learning experience.

Being a novice, I also need to learn more about my research area. So I appreciated the opportunity to attend a workshop on drop impact at Imperial College where James gave a talk. There was a nice variety of talks (experimental, theoretical and computational) on both the basic drop impact problem and its complications (e.g., impact on soft, porous and moving surfaces), as well as other related problems (water entry by a solid, dynamic wetting, drop evaporation). It was interesting to meet Jie Li from Cambridge who has recently developed a computational model of drop collision -- hopefully, we will be able to improve and extend his study.

There have been some learning opportunities at Warwick as well. I particularly appreciate the number of interesting seminars here -- I usually attend three or four a week, sometimes more, in maths, physics and engineering. We have also started weekly group meetings. I am formally in charge, although this does not involve much more than sending reminders to everybody a couple of days in advance. Many new people have joined the group recently and so the goal for this term is to get to know each other. With this in mind we take turns giving informal talks (sometimes very informal!) about our past experiences and current projects. The discussions are lively and a great way to learn, exercise our brains and have fun.

It's not all just work here, of course. Our trip to Wales has already been described in this blog by Dave. As for me personally, I have been able to indulge in my favourite pastime of orienteering, taking part in races in the streets and alleys of Oxford and the town of Warwick, sand dunes of Anglesey and Cumbria, and a Lake District fell.