Granular Flow Impact and wear analysis using 3D DEM simulation

Key Information

On a global scale, there are trillions of tonnes of raw materials moved daily in almost all types of industries including mining, pharmaceuticals, marine and manufacturing.

As an example, an integrated steel works must import vast amounts raw materials to meet market demands of the end user for high quality steels. The efficiency of the extraction of iron from an ore is essential to the economics of producing a cost effective hot metal commodity. Key factors in maintaining an advantage in an extremely volatile market place are issues related to production “downtime” due to plant failure and unscheduled plant maintenance. The raw materials used for this process vary in density, consistency and are generally extremely abrasive which greatly contributes to system deterioration and wear. The conveyor belt infrastructure used to distribute the raw materials consist of numerous head chute arrangements to change conveyor belt direction. These are particularly vulnerable to intense impact and high energy transfer considering the bulk handling requirements expected of this type of equipment.  

Project Aims

The project proposed here is a two-pronged attack involving:

  1. The application of a versatile 3D discrete element method (DEM) simulation tool to optimise chute deign to minimise wear
  2. The strategic implementation of highly advanced surface alloyed steels to significantly improve wear resistance.

Wear resistant metals use sophisticated surface metallurgy to improve performance in this field. However, high wear resistance alone may delay deterioration but not prevent it. Modelling the transition of raw material through a domain maps the physical nature of the dynamic flow and will compare the virtual world with onsite situations. With this type of virtual analysis validated against real equipment data, this project will offer considerable insight into material flow dynamics and have the ability to use results to reengineer systems with high quality wear resistant solutions. 

Suitable Candidate

Background in Engineering,Maths or Physics with an interest in computational modelling


Prof Steve Brown, Dr Nick Lavery

Sponsoring Company Walcolmony & Tata Steel

Candidates should hold an Engineering or Physical Sciences degree with a minimum classification level of 2:1 or equivalent relevant experience. 

 Our funders require applicants to also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a UK or EU citizen (i.e. eligible for ‘home’ tuition fees at the University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of your studies.
  • You must be resident in West Wales and the Valleys at the point of enrolment and throughout the duration of your studies.
  • You must not be financially able to participate without the award of grant funding.
  • We would normally expect the English Language requirements to be met by point of interview (April 2018). For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit – http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/englishlanguagerequirements/

Further information regarding eligibility criteria can be found at: http://www.materials-academy.co.uk/eligibility

The Athena SWAN Charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation.


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a.

Closing Date 28 February 2018

Start Date October 2018

Apply Now

Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk