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
  • Oxford Biomedical Engineering (BUBBL)
  • TotalSim Ltd
  • Waters Corporation

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Latest news and blogs

Stephen Longshaw

Dr Stephen M. Longshaw, Research Fellow, Daresbury Laboratory

Stephen will be giving a talk at the international conference on parallel, distributed, grid and cloud computing (or PARENG) conference at the University of Pécs (Hungary) in late March 2017. 

This is the fifth edition of the conference series where he will be talking about some of the HPC aspects of code coupling at scale for multi-scale and multi-physics applications, as well as looking towards the concept of the digital product and how code coupling will play its part.

Jun gave an invited talk at Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences on January 4th, 2017. His talk was titled "Molecular simulation and multiscale modelling of nonequilibrium and noncontinuum flows" (in Chinese: 非平衡和非连续流的分子统计模拟与多尺度计算), and was given in front of audiences numbering about 50. The topics include his recent works on droplets and previous works on rarefied gas dynamics. 

Congratulation to Anirudh who has won a highly competitive two-year fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study in Warwick through their WIRL-COFUND scheme. Anirudh will continue to work in our Group but will also be driving his research in new exciting directions which he proposed for this fellowship.

Dr Matthew K. Borg

Dr Matthew K. Borg, University of Edinburgh

Our latest research article has now appeared in the special issue of the MRS Bulletin, and can be downloaded from here. This article reviews some of the sequential and concurrent multiscale methods we developed over the past couple of years for dealing with water transport through high-aspect-ratio nanotubes embedded in membranes. Our results have demonstrated that (a) multiscale methods can actually be applied to far-reaching engineering problems (rather than just tested on simple canonical problems such as Couette flow), and (b) these methods finally offer a unique and economical computational solution that as a result are now being used to shed light on typically-conflicting experimental results for flows through aligned nanotube membranes. 

One of our lucky simulations - water transport through a 1 nm diameter carbon nanotube - has also made it to the front cover of the issue (see above).   

Duncan Dockar, PhD Student, University of Edinburgh

Scientists from the University of Manchester have successfully developed a graphene-oxide, laminate membrane capable of removing up to 97% of NaCl ions from salt-water. Their findings, published in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrate a method for modifying the interlayer spacing between graphene-oxide sheets for “tunable ion sieving”.

Their research also corresponds well with our own work at the Micro & Nano Flows for Engineering Group. Dr Matthew Borg and Professor Jason Reese have recently published an article in the MRS Bulletin of an overview of their work in multiscale modelling of water transport through high aspect-ratio carbon nanotubes. Both articles highlight some important applications of micro and nanoscale fluid research, namely providing fresh drinking water for water-scarce areas of the world.

Read more here.

Dr Jianfei Xie, Research Associate, University of Edinburgh

The members of MNF (from the University of Edinburgh) attended the 30th Scottish Fluid Mechanics Meeting, which took place on Friday 19 May 2017 at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (hopefully we will see the meeting photograph later). Our group members Dr Rohit Pillai and Sree Hari gave the poster and oral presentations (Wetting dynamics of nanodroplets on vibrating surface, and Bridge growth anomalies during nanodroplet coalescence) separately. It was a great opportunity to communicate with other researchers from different background (Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering) and see the wide applications of their research to engineering and science problems (stability of oil/water bi-layer free film, heterogeneous porous media flows, cellar blood flow and nanodroplets). The next meeting will be held at the University of Aberdeen next year.