A research funding Fellowship for a Heriot-Watt academic could have important implications in areas ranging from industrial processes worth £200B a year to the UK economy to natural phenomena like avalanches or volcanic flows.
The EPSRC Engineering, Established Career Fellowship for Professor Raffaella Ocone, of the Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering group in Heriot-Watt's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, involves funding of over £1m to devise an accurate and evidence-based model for particulate flow, or how particles behave as they move. It will form the basis of an international collaboration between the University, the US Department of Energy and the Chinese Academy of Science. The programme's aim is to develop the management of particle agglomeration from what is currently more of an 'art' to a reliable and user-inspired theory.
Professor Ocone said, “Existing theories for particulate flow lack the robustness, predictability and flexibility needed for proper understanding of and, in industrial settings, control of processes where we need to understand just how particles move, flow or clump.
“Current practice is based mainly on ad-hoc models for each specific flow. What we hope to achieve, with the support of this Fellowship funding, is the development of a reliable theory which will be applicable to both industrial and natural phenomena. This has the potential to significantly reduce production costs and improve the product quality in pharmaceuticals, paints and detergents, three areas important to the UK economy and valued at £200B per year, as well has helping us to improve our understanding of such phenomena as they occur in the natural world.”
Supporting world-leading individuals
EPSRC Fellowships aims to provide greater support to the aspiring and current world-leading individuals who are delivering the highest quality research to meet UK and global priorities. Through links to strategic priorities and focussing on areas where growth is required, Fellowships develop the next generation of researchers with the greatest potential across the postdoctoral, early and established career stages.
Kedar Pandya, EPSRC's Head of Engineering, said, “EPSRC recognises the importance of supporting both future and current leadership within engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC Engineering theme is keen to support research addressing new fundamental engineering challenges in particle technology, which also takes into account its relevance to wider fields. The work Professor Ocone is undertaking, through her established career fellowship, will help bridge the gap between particle technology and rheology, involves working across different length scales and aligns well with our priorities.”