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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/S67845/01
Title: Basic Technology: Fluidic electricity generation by electrohydrodynamical flow of colloidal particles
Principal Investigator: Zimmerman, Professor W
Other Investigators:
Routh, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 February 2004 Ends: 30 April 2005 Value (£): 103,040
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
We propose to study the potential applicability of a mechanism for generating electrical current by electrohydrodynamical flow of a colloidal dispersion. In theory, the flow or even oscillation of charged colloidal particles in a magnetic field should produce electrical current. In practice, only small fluctuations are likely as symmetrical, spherical colloidal particles will adjust their rotation in coordination with other particles and the magnetic field to oppose electricity generation. Lifting this symmetry, which is possible by using colloidal platelets of laponite or bentonite, has been shown in a simplistic experiment to produce appreciable voltages under oscillatory flow. In this project, we will construct a flow cell to isolate the effects of flow conditions (steady flow, oscillatory flow, and swirling flow), to vary the construction and configuration of the magnetic circuitry, and then to assess using particle image velocimetry the role of hydrodynamics and particle shape/size distribution on the electricity generation. The flow cell so designed will be tested in a sidearm of a pipeline designed to optimise mechanical energy takeoff from the main flow, along with a suitably engineered interface between the bulk fluid and clean colloidal fluid, as a prototype electrical generator appropriate for power takeoff from hydraulic flow in remote locations (for instance downhole oil production or on long pipelines) where maintenance is difficult. If the generation technology is efficient and cost-effective, then it could be used as an alternative distributed energy source from wind, wave, or watershed. The principles are argued to have applicability to biomedical engineering, microfluidics, and heterogeneous reaction engineering.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk