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

Dr Juan C. Padrino, Research Fellow, University of Warwick

MNF will be present in the upcoming 3rd UK InterPore Conference on Porous Media‚Äč to be held at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, on 4 and 5 September 2017.  On the afternoon session of 5 September, Juan C. Padrino will give a talk on multiscale modeling of diffusive transport in complex networks.

Dr Benzi John, Senior Computational Scientist, Daresbury Laboratory

Benzi John (PI) and David Emerson (Co-I) have successfully won about 32, 000 KAU (~ £18,000) frunding from EPSRC to run large-scale simulations on ARCHER. The project titled "High fidelity non-equilibrium DSMC flow simulations at scale using SPARTA" will run for 12 months, starting from August 1st 2017. More information here.

Dr. Duncan Lockerby

Prof. Duncan Lockerby, University of Warwick

It's a pleasure to welcome three new starters to Warwick and the Micro Nano Flows team. Laura Cooper joins us as a post-doctoral researcher, and will be working on multi-phase flow in porous media with James Sprittles. Yixin Zhang and Jacqueline Misfud are in the first weeks of their PhDs. Yixin will be investigating nano film stability (with molecular dynamics) and Jacqui will be researching micro-bubble cavitation (with CFD)  in partnership with Waters Limited. We wish all three the best of luck in their research!

 

Stephen Longshaw

Dr Stephen M. Longshaw, Research Fellow, Daresbury Laboratory

Well, it's that time of year again, no not Christmas, conference time!

Recently members from the MNF group have been at a number of large conferences, with Prof. David Emerson attending both SuperComputing 2017 and then, with other members of the group, the APS conference in Denver in America. 

I recently found myself at the UK's version of SuperComputing, the STFC run Computing Insight UK, although a smaller event than SuperComputing, this year still saw around 400 people come together in Manchester in the UK to see the latest computing technologies, discuss how to join up the UK's e-Infrastructure (i.e. how can we all get better access to the nations HPC resources) and, the reasons I was there, a day long session on emerging computing technology, which I ran! This was an exciting event for me as we didn't just have speakers, instead we also ran a 3 hour practical work-shop on hands-on Quantum Computing in collaboration with IBM Research. This went down fantastically and we hope to run something similar in the future.

The next exciting event is the annual MNF Christmas conference and workshop on the 18th and 19th of December! This is behing held over 2 days in Cheshire, with the first day being devoted to engaging with our industrial partners in a steering and impact committee day and the second for the group to come together and update each other one what we have all been doing! Events like this are essential with research groups as large as this one, we are spread over a number of institutions and not all working together so this event is a really great opportunity.

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the EMiT@CIUK 2017 workshop showing me looking awkward in front of a camera (watch the STFC media feeds for the full interview if you want something to laugh at) and Dr Stefan Filipp from IBM Research Zurich teaching us all about the state of quantum computing, how we can learn it now and what it can be applied to in the future. Fascinating stuff, especially for the future of molecular modelling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, if you want to have a play with quantum computing yourself, I enourage you to go to the IBM Quantum Experience website, where you can run on an actual quantum machine hosted in the IBM York Town research facility. More importantly though it offers a great set of tutorials to help you find out the important basics such as "what is a qubit?", "how do i teleport data between them", "who or what is a Hadamard gate?" and many others! Have a look here: https://quantumexperience.ng.bluemix.net/qx

 

 

Prof Jason M Reese

Prof. Jason M Reese, Regius Professor of Engineering, University of Edinburgh

For me, the highlights of each research year are the Steering & Impact Committee meetings (where we bring together our industrial partners) and the Technical Workshops (where we share our progress between our institutions). On Monday and Tuesday of this week we had our regular end-of-year research extravaganza, where we not only have a Steering & Impact meeting, but the following day our Technical Workshop which we open up to our other close collaborators at Strathclyde, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt universities. This year we met in the beautiful surroundings of Inglewood Manor Hotel, near Chester.

Above is a photo, taken on the steps of the hotel, of our industrial partner representatives from Jaguar Land Rover, the European Space Agency, TotalSim Ltd, Waters UK, Nokia Bell Labs (Ireland), TH Collaborative Innovation, and Akzo Nobel Coatings International (not shown). We were able to share with our partners our progress made in the last six months, introduce and hear from our researchers, and discuss mutual opportunities and any issues arising. Several of our PhD and postdoc projects have close industrial engagement so we had a lot to discuss, and the contributions of our industrial partners are invaluable! We finished the day with a lively discussion about the UK's new Industrial Strategy, followed by a convivial meal.

On Tuesday we had our Technical Workshop. Including our collaborators from Strathclyde University, I counted more than 40 people attending. Trying to fit so many talks from our researchers into the day, meant that we adopted an American Physical Society way of doing it, i.e. talks could only be 11 minutes, with 4 additional minutes for any questions from the audience.

The range and quality of the research talks by our researchers always impresses me, and this year was no exception. The excellent research results convinces me that future progress in engineering science is safe in the hands of the next generation! This year we were also pleased to welcome our new visiting scientist Prof Suman Chakraborty of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, who gave a well-received keynote talk on "Slippery flows: a molecular perspective". We are looking forward to welcoming Suman back to the UK for another visit to us later in 2018.

The day is a fantastic demonstration of the value of working with each other, sharing ideas, and helping each other. I encourage our people to take these opportunities to discuss their ideas, problems, hopes and fears with each other - we have seen time and time again that is the way to advance together. 

In the evening we gathered for another of our traditions - the end-of-year dinner. This is a great chance to relax together over a good meal, and the evening high-jinks often go on until the early hours of the next morning!

 

Duncan Dockar, PhD Student, University of Edinburgh

Happy New Year, all! While the Hogmanay hangovers are beginning to wear off, we approach that time of year when the news headlines are dominated with “disruption”, “travel chaos”, and “winter storms”. I personally love snow, but when it comes to freezing temperatures and delays I definitely understand why some people don’t.

Airport staff possibly have the greatest reason to dislike snow. Aside from general runway clearing, deicing airplanes is an expensive, time-consuming, yet very necessary task. Ice accumulation on the wings of an aircraft increases weight which reduces fuel efficiency, but crucially also adversely affects airflow over the plane resulting in poor lift. Current deicing approaches are to spray airplanes with a heated glycol/water mix to melt existing ice and snow (glycol decreases the freezing temperature of water). A second step is also sometimes to spray the aircraft with a thicker, more concentrated glycol/water mix which prevents further ice forming on the aircraft body. This secondary deicing liquid slides off the plane during take-off so needs to be reapplied for every flight.

Part of our research at Micro & Nano Flows for Engineering is to investigate the onset of ice formation and how we can engineer materials which prevent the formation of ice on their surfaces, with the aim of eliminating the need for manual deicing processes. Applications for these technologies extend to almost all modes of transportation, such as railways, ships and roadways.

Lastly, in defence of winter I offer a photo of Edinburgh in the snow taken from Arthur’s seat during the holidays, as if you needed any more motivation to join us!