MATHEGRAM: Multiscale analysis of thermomechanical behaviour of granular materials

Our consortium are going to be finding out how granular materials behave through 15 projects being carried out by a cohort of early stage researchers.

Start date

01 December 2018

End date

30 June 2023


MATHEGRAM is a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral consortium consisting of 10 leading academic and non-academic beneficiaries from six EU countries.

Our beneficiaries have expertise in chemical and process engineering, aerospace, civil engineering, materials science, fine and speciality chemicals, pharmaceutical engineering, food science, computational mechanics and software development, in addition to five partner organisations. We will run 15 individual research projects to address the experimental and modelling challenges in analysing thermomechanical behaviour of granular materials.

We will take a systematic approach to examine the effects of temperature on mechanical properties, micromechanics, flow, compaction and mechanical properties, to enhance our understanding of the thermal performance of granular materials and broaden their industrial applications. We will also develop robust heat generation and transfer models for granular materials and use in situ nano-computed tomography to understand the microscopic evolution of a granular material at high temperatures, and explore the application of granular materials in emerging areas, such as dry powder coating in aerospace applications and additive manufacturing.

Aims and objectives

Granular materials, such as soils, agricultural seeds, metallic and ceramic powders, and pharmaceutical powders, are common in nature and have many industrial applications. They possess unique physical properties and a complicated flow behaviour. We aim to improve our understanding of the thermomechanical behaviour of granular materials. In particular, we aim to answer the following research questions:

  1. How does temperature increase within granular materials without the application of external heating sources?
  2. How does temperature affect the physical properties of granular materials?
  3. How can the thermomechanical properties of granular materials be effectively utilised in various applications, e.g. additive manufacturing, powder coating, sintering and catalysis?

Funding amount


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Early stage researchers

Take a look at our early stage researchers and the projects they are working on.


MATHEGRAM ESR successfully defended her PhD thesis

Our ESR Jelena did an excellent job on March 14 2023 during her PhD defense. The whole examination committees are all proud of her, her thesis, and the performance during the exam!

Congratulations, Jelena! 

Dr. Jelena Macak and supervisor Prof. Stefan Radl after the successful PhD defense


Journal papers

A. Palanisamy, F. Deslandes, M. Ramaioli, P. Menut, A. Plana-Fattori and D. Flick, Kinetic modelling of individual starch granules swelling, Food Structure, Volume 26, October 2020.

B. Paredes-Goyes, D. Jauffres, J. Missiaen and C. L. Martin, Grain growth in sintering: A discrete element model on large packings, Acta Materialia, Volume 218, October 2021.

J. Mačak, C. Goniva and S. Radl, Regimes of subsonic compressible flow in gas-particle systems, Powder Technology, Volume 394, December 2021.

B. Soundararajan, D. Sofia, D. Barletta and M. Poletto, Review on modeling techniques for powder bed fusion processes based on physical principles, Additive Manufacturing, Volume 47, 2021, 102336, ISSN 2214-8604.

B. Soundararajan, D. Sofia, D. Barletta and M. Poletto, The set Up of an Experimental Testing Rig to Measure Time and Space Temperature Profiles in Laser Sintering of Polymeric Powders, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 86, 781-786, 2021.

​T. Morimoto, C. O’Sullivan and D. M. G. Taborda, Exploiting DEM to Link Thermal Conduction and Elastic Stiffness in Granular Materials, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, issue 2 vol 148, 2021.

T. Morimoto, B. Zhao, D.M.G.Taborda and C. O'Sullivan, Critical appraisal of pore network models to simulate fluid flow through assemblies of spherical particles, Computers and Geotechnics, Volume 150, October 2022, 104900.

A. Palanisamy, M. Ramaioli, P. Menut, A. Plana-Fattori and D. Flick, Multiscale modelling of flow, heat transfer and swelling during thermo-mechanical treatment of starch suspensions,

Food Structure, Volume 29, July 2021, 100211.

A. Palanisamy, G. Moulin, M. Ramaioli, A. Plana-Fattori, D. Flick and P. Menut, Determination of the mechanical properties of gelatinized starch granule from bulk suspension characterization, Rheologica Acta, volume 61, pages 299–308, 2022.

B. Paredes-GoyesA. M. VenkateshD. Jauffrès and C. Martin, Two-step sintering of alumina nano-powders: A discrete element study, Journal of the European Ceramic Society, Volume 43, Issue 2, February 2023, Pages 501-5092022.

Conference papers

A. Palanisamy, A. Plana-Fattori, P. Menut, M. Ramaioli and D. Flick, Transient DEM Simulation of Starch Granule Suspension undergoing Thermal Treatment, Proceedings of 11th FOODSIM'2020 Conference, September 6-10, 2020, Belgium.

D.  Braile, C.  Hare and C. Wu, DEM modelling of swelling of grains, EPJ Web Conf. 249 14011 (2021), Powders & Grains 2021 – 9th International Conference on Micromechanics on Granular Media, Volume 249, 2021.

F. Kisuka, C. Wu and C. Hare, Friction-induced heat generation between two particles, EPJ Web Conf. 249 14011 (2021), Powders & Grains 2021 – 9th International Conference on Micromechanics on Granular Media, Volume 249, 2021

T. Morimoto, C. O’Sullivan and D. M. G. Taborda, Analytical and DEM studies of thermal stress in granular materials, Powders & Grains 2021 – 9th International Conference on Micromechanics on Granular Media, Volume 249, 2021.

R. Rangel, A. Franci, A. Cornejo, E. Oñate and F. Zárate, Thermo-mechanical analysis of continuous and discrete media with PFEM and DEM, Proceedings of the joint XLII Ibero-Latin-American Congress on Computational Methods in Engineering and III Pan-American Congress on Computational Mechanics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2021.

Training events

We will recruit and train a cohort of 15 early stage researchers to become a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative scientists with inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral (i.e. academic and non-academic) experience.

We will deliver a comprehensive training programme of local and network wide training designed to equip them with the fundamental scientific skills and knowledge and transferable skills.

Training schools

  • First training school: Research methods and science communication (2 - 5 November 2020)
  • Second training school: Regulation, legislation, innovation and collaboration (6 - 8 October 2021).
  • Third training school: Entrepreneurship, career and research skills (4 - 10 February 2022).

Advanced training courses

  • First advanced training course: Modelling and characterisation of granular materials (18 - 22 November 2019)
  • Second advanced training course: Emerging applications of granular materials (26 - 30 April 2021).

Contact us

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Find us


School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
University of Surrey
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