Formulation and products

We have a strong track record in fundamental research into formulation and product engineering.

Our particular strength lies in mechanistic analysis, multiscale modelling, characterisation, optimisation and process innovation for formulated products.

Overview

Formulated products are structured materials designed to provide a useful function, and may exist as particles, pastes, emulsions or thin films, for example. These products are widely used in many industries, such as pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals (e.g. catalysts) and fast moving consumer goods.

Manufacture of functional products is often challenging, with the development of the feed material-process-product relationship being key to ensuring production provides the desired attributes.

Research activity

Our aim is to develop science-based predictive models, design tools and innovative manufacturing processes for formulated products. This is underpinned by our active research in particulate materials manufacturing, multiphase flow, advanced numerical modelling using coupled discrete element methods with computational fluid dynamics (DEM-CFD) and finite element modelling (FEM), process modelling and optimisation, and measurements and characterisation using advanced techniques such as x-ray computed microtomography, and positron emission particle tracking (PEPT).

Facilities

Powder flowability

  • Schulze RST.XS.s shear cell; 0.1 – 20 kPa
  • Freeman FT4 Powder Rheometer; dynamic flowability, permeability, aeration
  • Funnel flow testers (Granuflow, Flowdex)
  • Custom-built die filling systems; linear (passive) and rotational (active).

Other facilities

  • Temperature and humidity conditioning
  • Roller compactors
  • High speed camera (Phantom v1612)
  • DEM and DEM-CFD simulation software: EDEM, Rocky DEM, BlazeDEM, ABAqus, Star-CCM
  • Instron mechanical testing machines
  • Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).

Particle breakage

  • Conical mill (Erweka CM 60)
  • Rotary cutting mill.

Particle characterisation

  • Size and shape distribution; 0.5 – 30,000 μm (QicPic)
  • Moisture content (Mettler Toledo).

Projects

  • MATHEGRAM - Multiscale analysis of thermomechanical behaviour of granular materialsFunded by European Commission (EC) H2020 (No. 813202, $4,200,000) (Coordinator, 12.2018 - 11.2022)
  • Migration of pollutant particles in rivers: A multiscale approach. Royal Society International Newton Fellowship (NIFnR1n181640, $103,000) (PI, 12.2018 - 11.2020)
  • Die filling of Aerated fine powdersFunded by IFPRI
  • A holistic framework for hybrid modelling of solid-liquid Flows(EPSRC, EP/N033876, £337k) (09.2016 - 08.2020).  (Part of a $1.9m consortium with the University of Birmingham and Daresbury Laboratory)
  • Flowability assessment of weakly consolidated powdersFunded by IFPRI
  • Characterising powder flow in dynamic processesFunded by Corning
  • Novel formulations for effective and stable skin delivery of anti-aging nutrientsFunded by EPSRC IAA.

  • DECRON - Development of eco-friendly ironmaking processes based on GPU-enhanced DEM-CFD modelling. Funded by European Commission (EC) H2020 (No. 747963, $195,454) (PI, 11.2017 - 10.2019)
  • Discrete computational modelling of twin screw granulation(EPSRC, EP/M02976X, £335k) (10.2015 - 09.2019). (Part of a $1.5m consortium with the Universities of Birmingham and Sheffield)
  • IPROCOM – The development of in silico process models for roll compactionFunded by EC FP7-ITN with a total budget of £3.8€. Coordinated by CPE
  • ThermoPC – Thermomechanical modelling of powder compactionFunded by EC FP7-IEF
  • Development of predictive models for manufacturing bilayer pharmaceutical tabletsFunded by MSD
  • Wet granulation of milk blendsFunded by Unilever
  • P9 AMIRA project  - the optimisation of mineral processing by modelling and simulationFunded by more than 20 multi-national mining companies, 2011-2015. The total funding is A$10.4M and the funding for ore breakage characterisation theme is A$1M
  • CSIRO Cluster Project on Preconcentration and Agglomeration to Enhance Heap Leaching of Nickel LateriteThe total funding for the Cluster is $3.05million and funding for Dr. Liu’s team was A$310k
  • Low cost carbon based catalyst for polymer membrane fuel cellsFunded by H2FC SUPERGEN Hub, £100 k
  • Designing nanoporous carbon materials as anode materials for sodium ion batteries(EPSRC, EP/M027066/1, £100 k)
  • PhD project on the development of electrode formulation for sodium ion batteries
  • Two BBSRC CASE PhD projects in the area of dermal absorption of topically delivered products
  • EPSRC EngD project in modelling moisture migration in food materials