Stephen Wilson

Prof Stephen Wilson

Professor of Applied Mathematics

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EPSRC Funded Studentship: Evaporation and Boiling of Nanofluids at the University of Strathclyde

EPSRC Funded Studentship: Evaporation and Boiling of Nanofluids at the University of Strathclyde

 

Closing Date: 30th September 2011

Start Date: From 1st October 2011

 

Supervisors: Professor Stephen Wilson and Dr Brian Duffy.

 

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Strathclyde has a vacancy for an EPSRC-funded PhD studentship beginning in October 2011 on the evaporation and boiling of nanofluids.

 

Nanofluids are manufactured suspensions of nanoscale particles (typically, but not always, made of metal) in a carrier fluid. In the last decade or so there has been an explosion of interest in using nanofluids in a wide variety of practical applications, ranging from microelectronics to medical applications. Nanofluids have a number of interesting properties, but probably the most widely used is that they can have significantly enhanced thermal properties (such a thermal conductivity and heat transfer coefficient) compared to those of the pure carrier fluid, and so offer the tantalising possibility of significant improvements in a number of industrially and practically important heat-transfer and mass-transfer processes.

 

The aim of the proposed project is to use a combination of analytical and numerical methods to develop and analyse mathematical models capturing the behaviour of nanofluids in two specific practically important problems, namely droplet evaporation and nucleate boiling.

 

The evaporation of a fluid droplet is a fundamental problem with a wide variety of practical applications, ranging from industrial processes (e.g. printing, drying and coating) to agriculture (e.g. crop spraying) and biology (e.g. DNA microarray analysis). In recent years there has been a concerted international research effort on various aspects of droplet evaporation. In particular, the present supervisors (Professor Wilson and Dr Duffy) and their experimental collaborator Dr Khellil Sefiane (University of Edinburgh) won the 2009 Institute of Physics Printing and Graphics Science Group Prize for their work on “a fundamental study of droplet evaporation”. This work concerned droplets of pure and binary (two-component) fluids, but very recently Dr Sefiane has conducted preliminary experiments involving the evaporation of droplets of various nanofluids, and found an effect on both the overall evaporation rate and the slick/slip dynamics of the three-phase contact line. The underlying mechanisms through which nanoparticles act when used in two-phase heat-transfer applications is still an open question, and so there is now an urgent need to build on the previous work to develop and analyse a mathematical model capturing the key physical phenomena. Analysing the model will require a judicious combination of numerical calculations and asymptotic analysis in physically important limits in order to obtain a complete understanding of the phenomena and then, hopefully, to optimise the industrially desirable properties (such as the heat transfer).

 

Nucleate boiling is another fundamental problem with a wide range of applications, especially in industrial cooling and the cooling of electronic components. While there is a huge scientific literature on many different aspects of nucleate boiling, there has been only a handful of papers on nucleate boiling of nanofluids, and the results obtained thus far are confusing and sometimes contradictory. The project will therefore build on the first supervisor’s previous work on nucleate boiling in a confined geometry (a paradigm for the real industrial situation) to study the effect of nanofluids on nucleate boiling. Again a combination of numerical and asymptotic methods will be required to obtain a full understanding of the physical problem.

 

A particularly exciting aspect of the proposed project is that work on both problems will be conducted in collaboration with Dr Sefiane in Edinburgh. In particular, Dr Sefiane has indicated that he will conduct further physical experiments in droplet evaporation and confined boiling in order to assist in the development and analysis of the mathematical models.

 

The successful applicant will join the Department’s large and active population of postgraduate students all working on various aspects of applied mathematics and scientific computing. In particular, the Continuum Mechanics and Industrial Mathematics research group currently has around 20 postgraduate students working on using mathematical methods to tackle a range of “real world” problems in fluid mechanics and soft matter within which the present project naturally fits. As well as an active programme of Departmental and group seminars, all new postgraduate students may attend the programme of taught postgraduate courses delivered by the pan-Scotland Scottish Mathematical Sciences Training Centre (SMSTC) which are delivered by state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities backed up by local tutorials. In addition, postgraduate students present their research findings within the Department prior to attending appropriate national and international conferences in their second and third years of study.

 

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in Mathematics or Physics. This studentship covers fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £13,290 in the first year (typically rising with inflation for subsequent years). Additional support for conference travel is provided. The award is for up to three and a half years, subject to satisfactory performance. To qualify, applicants should be UK nationals, or should have been resident in the UK for the last three years.

 

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international research university, and in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise the Department of Mathematics was rated 2nd in Scotland and 12th in the UK as a whole in research power.

 

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcomed by email to the supervisors, Professor Stephen Wilson (s.k.wilson@strath.ac.uk) and/or Dr Brian Duffy (b.r.duffy@strath.ac.uk). 

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