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Computational models mean more efficient industrial processes


Optimisation of industrial processes requires the ability to understand and predict the phenomena occurring during the actual processes. Computational models make it easier to understand the physical and chemical phenomena occurring between bubbles, particles and droplets – particularly when substances appear in the processes in several different states.

Gijsbert Wierink, who defended his doctoral dissertation at Aalto University in May, utilised several computational models in his research to study the dynamic interaction between bubbles and particles in different flow conditions.

“The conclusion is that interaction can be reliably modelled, and that modelling is beneficial when studying the phenomena occurring between key industrial processes used on a daily basis.”

In his research, Wierink developed computational models that make it possible to calculate the motion of a bubble and particle in fluid.

“The computational model improves the efficiency of industrial processes by making the interactions within the process more understandable.”

Modelling of micro-level phenomena supports sustainable development

The method presented in the dissertation is unique in the mineral processing sector, and it can easily be applied to applications in other industrial areas where similar physical and chemical phenomena occur. For example, in flotation, which is a typical industrial extraction process, bubbles are used to separate solid particles from liquid. The interaction between the bubbles and particles and their motion in liquid affect the end result of extraction.

“I already researched flotation models in my master's thesis in 2006. At that time, I noticed that, although several models exist, they are not enough as such. My dissertation involved compiling a framework for combining the models,” says Wierink as he reviews that background for his research.

In practice, the efficiency of functions like metal and fuel production, waste water treatment and paper recycling are highly dependent on the interaction of bubbles and particles or droplets. At best, optimisation of industrial processes can support sustainable development in large-scale production facilities.

“For example, internal water flows in industrial sectors that consume large amounts of water could be made more efficient and the processes optimised to use less water.”

More information:

Doctor of Science (Technology) Gijsbert Wierink

gwierink [at] sgi [dot] com