Computational modelling of powder blending and flow in continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing

This project aims to explore the flow behaviour of powders during continuous blending and tabletting (i.e. powder flow in the feed frame) using a computational modelling approach, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals and the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Start date
1 April 2021
36 months
Application deadline
Funding source
VLAIO - Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Belgium
Funding information

Tuition fees will be covered, plus a stipend of £15,009 per year.


Continuous manufacturing is an emerging technology for producing pharmaceutical products. A thorough understanding of material behaviour during the manufacturing process is important in product development and manufacturing. FREEDOM (Enabling scale-flexible process development for continuous solid-dosage manufacturing towards Pharma 4.0) is a consortium funded by VLAIO - Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Belgium.

Computational modelling will be performed using the discrete element method, and validated using the experimental data to be obtained by other FREEDOM partners. Specific tasks for this project include but not limited to:

  • Critical literature review to understand the background, the state-of-the-art and the challenges,  and to identify the knowledge gap.
  • Development, calibration and validation of DEM models for continuous powder blending and powder flow in feed frames.


The project aims to develop a design space for continuous blending based upon thorough micromechanical analysis of the process. Using the design space, optimal process condition can be identified for a given formulation and a required throughput. To achieve this goal, the following specific objectives are identified for this work package:

  1. To develop a discrete element model for continuous blending
  2. To develop computer models for predicting flow behaviour as a function of formulation properties in the feed frame and during die filling
  3. To validate and refine the computer model experimentally to assess the model fidelity
  4. To perform a comprehensive numerical analysis of continuous blending, from which a process regime map can be constructed.
Related links
Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

Eligibility criteria

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who holds a master degree or equivalent in engineering, physics or a closely-related discipline, with a keen interest in computer modelling, numerical analysis, particle technology and pharmaceutical engineering.

The candidate should be a good team player and can engage in interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration with good oral and written communication skills. Previous experience or some knowledge in discrete element modelling and powder technology is desirable but not essential as training will be provided.

Overseas students are also welcome to apply.

IELTS requirements: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each band or equivalent.

How to apply

Applications should be made through the Chemical and Process Engineering Research PhD course page.

Please contact Professor Charley Wu prior to submitting to discuss your application.

Application deadline

Contact details

Charley Wu
15 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683506

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