Particulate Science and Technology

Much of our environment and the benefits that we derive from our surroundings are strongly influenced by the interactions of the three primary phases of matter – solids, liquids, and gases. These interactions often occur at surfaces, with the individual phases being discrete in form. Particles/powders, which can be either wet or dry, and range in size from nanometers to centimenters, are one very important example of such a multiphase system. As with solids, bulk powders can withstand deformation; as with liquids, they can flow; as with gases, they exhibit compressibility. These features give rise to another state of matter – particulate matter – that is poorly understood.
Particulate science and technology is a rapidly developing interdisciplinary research area with its core being the understanding of the relationships between micro- and macro-scopic properties of particulate materials. It is now emerging as a core competency of paramount importance to many sectors of our modern economy. The macroscopic behaviour of a powder is controlled by the interactions between individual particles as well as interactions with any surrounding gas or liquid. Understanding the microscopic mechanisms in relation to these interaction forces is key to leading to truly interdisciplinary research into particulate matter, in which scientists and engineers correlate their findings and ensure that microscopic predictions from one discipline match macroscopic results from another. It is extremely difficult to obtain microscopic information experimentally, even with the use of advanced and expensive measuring techniques. However, this difficulty can be overcome by computer simulation and modelling. This point of view has been widely accepted among the scientists working in this area, particularly in recent years as a result of the rapid development of discrete particle simulation techniques and computer technology.
The research theme in Prof. Yu’s Lab for Particulate and Multiphase Processing (PMP) is “simulation and modelling of particulate systems”, aimed at understanding the mechanisms governing particulate packing and flow through rigorous simulation and modelling of the particle-particle and particle-fluid interactions at both microscopic and macroscopic levels. The lab is leading in a number of important areas including particle packing, particulate and multiphase flow/processing (in processes like blast furnace ionmaking), and simulation and modelling. It receives well over $1M external funds pa for various projects in mineral/metallurgical/materials industries, and current consists of 7 research staff, 18 research students and 3 visiting researchers. The team has been recognized as one of the strongest in particle research worldwide.
Industrial sponsors/collaborators (2005):
Bluescope Steel Research
Alcoa Research and Development
BHP-Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA)
Xstrata Technology
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Posco Steel (Korea)
Tata Steel (India)