Joint PhD project available with CSIRO Data61 Melbourne


From landslides to granular hoppers: can local structure metrics predict flow properties of granular materials?

The flow of granular materials are relevant to any industrial transport process of particulate matter – from minerals and sand to powders and pharmaceutical pills. Flow phenomena of loose or compacted granular materials are also important on the geophysical scale, in landslides, dunes or erosion processes. This proposed PhD thesis project uses state-of-the-art simulation methods for simulating granular flows to address some fundamental questions relating particle shape to flow properties. In particular we will generalise a recent method for local structure characterisation, called Minkowski tensors (Adv Matter 2011; New J Phys 2013), from its application to static packing properties (Phys Rev Lett 2015; Europhys Lett 2015) and sheared visco-plastic flows (Phys Rev Lett 2014) to its use for granular flows.

A key aim of the thesis would be an ability to detect precursor signals for the onset of flow or motion, based on small changes in the local environment. This project will be supervised jointly by Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk (Murdoch University, Perth) and Dr Gary Delaney (CSIRO, Clayton/Melbourne), benefiting from existing national and international collaborations. The project is most suitable for a student with existing programming skills and an enthusiasm for geometric problems. Funding can be provided through a competitive Murdoch PhD scholarship programs (see ‘Funding‘ page), with the possibility of a CSIRO top-up scholarship.

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