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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L027186/1
Title: Fluid processes in smart microengineered devices: Hydrodynamics and thermodynamics in microspace
Principal Investigator: Kalliadasis, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Galindo, Professor A Pradas, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2015 Ends: 30 April 2019 Value (£): 507,268
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fluid Dynamics Microsystems
Multiphase Flow Separation Processes
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
EP/L027232/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 Aug 2014 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 20 August 2014 Announced
08 Oct 2014 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 8th October 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The current microfluidic devices market is $2 Billion and expected to double by 2016. Such microdevices are usually integrated in multifunctional units, which not only offer numerous advantages over traditional large-scale technologies, but also provide a multitude of potential uses in many different research fields that exploit fluids in confined geometries. They have numerous practical applications including drug delivery (e.g. inhalers, microneedles), analytical devices, point of care diagnostics, continuous flow small scale intensified manufacturing, pharmaceutical research, clinical and veterinary diagnostics, etc. In microchannel devices fluids flow in confined geometries and although significant progress has been made, understanding how the different phenomena occurring across a wide range of lengths scales, from molecular-scale processes to macroscopic hydrodynamic ones, and how they are related to each other, is still lacking. More specifically, the proposed research focuses on how microstructures, e.g. membranes, microcontactors, or patterned substrates, affect the hydrodynamics and thermodynamics of multiphase flows in microspace; and more importantly how they are influenced by the presence of the microstructure. Such understanding is critical for furthering the applications of microfluidic devices and their utilisation for heat-mass transport enhancement.

The study of microengineered devices in the presence of microstructure posseses many challenges from both a fundamental and applied research point of view. It is our belief that a complete and systematic study of such devices should involve an interdisciplinary approach that requires the use of tools and the development of new methodologies from different areas. This proposal seeks funding for a comprehensive four-year research programme into a novel synergistic approach that will combine state-of-the-art experimental techniques, sophisticated computational fluid dynamics and molecular modeling as well as advanced theoretical physics elements, never attempted before. We aim at rationally understanding, and quantitatively characterising fluid processes in microstructured confined geometries, on both the molecular/thermodynamic and hydrodynamic level, hence establishing connections between phenomena occurring at widely separated scales. As a main case study we shall consider microscale fluid separation which highlights some of the currently unresolved, yet key issues in microengineering technology, namely vapour-liquid equilibrium in confined geometries and breakthrough process (i.e. one phase invading into another). Our main findings will also be used to explore other applications where microstructures play a central role, such as microdistillation, or slip flows and droplet formation.

The work will be undertaken by a team from the Chemical Engineering Department at Imperial College London with complementary skills and strengths: Kalliadasis (Hydrodynamics/Statistical Mechanics -- Computations, Theory), Galindo (Statistical Mechanics/Molecular Dynamics -- Computations), and Pradas (Statistical/Theoretical Physics -- Computations, Theory); and a team from the Chemical Engineering Department at University College London: Gavriilidis (Experimental Microchemical Engineering and Microfluidics), Kuhn (Microfluidics, Multiphase Flows Modelling and Experiments), and Sorensen (Process Design, Microdistillation).
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk