LIFD research impact showcase: Flow modelling research

Flow modelling research leads to innovative and profitable products and systems

Flow modelling research by LIFD members has created impact through improved product designs, increased product development capabilities, and better-trained technical staff.  The new computer-based flow modelling and optimisation methodologies have been applied to a range of flow systems and products in the commercial and public sectors.

Working with Parker Hannifin, Prof. Nik Kapur and Prof. Harvey Thompson’s research [1] on gas-liquid flow systems with droplets created an accurate flow optimisation methodology for droplet flows in the jet pumps of filtration systems used in diesel engines. Prof. Thompson says: “The new Super Impactor crankcase ventilator—the engineering solution developed as a result of the Leeds modelling— reduces engine emissions in line with Euro 6 requirements, and boosts fuel efficiency.”

Collaborations with Sandvik Coromant produced new cutting tools with step-change improvements in reliability and lifetimes for specified performance and sustainability objectives. Prof. Harvey Thompson and Dr. Jon Summers developed flow models [2] of the coolant flow and heat transfer when coolant flows out of coolant channels, over the cutting edge, and then interacts with chips created by the twist-drill cutting action. When commenting on the wider impact of this collaboration, Prof. Thompson says “the project led to an important culture change in the company through the provision of new knowledge, training and software tools to over 60 Sandvik technical staff in Sheffield, Coventry, Rovereto (Italy), and Sandviken (Sweden). The company now values flow modelling so highly that is has established a new R&D Modelling and Simulation team to provide flow modelling resources to the wider Sandvik Group”.

The NHS has also benefitted from the University’s flow modelling research through improved ambulance designs with lower fuel consumption, and modified ventilators and air-driven venturi valves to improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Prof. Harvey Thompson and colleagues combined flow modelling techniques, validated by wind tunnel experiments, to optimise the aerodynamic design of emergency response vehicles [3]. Prof. Nik Kapur worked with Leeds NHS Trust to apply his flow modelling expertise to optimise design modifications to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and to develop an innovative air-driven venturi valve to improve treatment of COVID-19 patients. “The valve places less burden on hospital infrastructure than other available designs, including efficient oxygen utilisation, and provides crucial additional treatment capacity should patient numbers outstrip existing CPAP and ventilator provision” explains Kapur.