Multi-physics-the great unknown
A large number of engineering applications involve granular material or a particulate phase in combination with a gaseous or liquid phase. Applications for this kind of materials mix can be found in diverse domains such as the pharmaceutical industry, the food and processing industry, energy production or systems biology. Everyday products such as coffee, corn flakes, nuts or fertilizer all depend on this field of knowledge known as multi-physics.
Common to these applications is that much of the underlying physics is unknown and, to date, processing is still dominated more by experience than solid knowledge. This is because controlled experiments often involve inaccessible or hostile environments, such as the combustion of hazardous waste. These “natural barriers” have so far prevented scientists from gaining deeper knowledge that could be used to improve design and production processes.
New software to predict multi-physics outcomes
In order to overcome this obstacle, the AMST project is developing a new generation of software. AMST stands for Advanced Multi-physics Simulation Technology, a type of software that can be used for a wide range of such complex processes. Besides its versatile use, the software’s main advantage is its independence from any experimental conditions. Despite this, it has proven its ability to predict very detailed results. Scientists and engineers then analyse the data obtained in great detail in order to unveil the underlying physics of the processes involved. With these theoretical insights complementing the empirical knowledge, our understanding of multi-physics has been considerably broadened.
Improved industrial design thanks to software-backed insight
From here, many different application domains are encountered. A first investigation deals with gasification of wood.
The predicted results include both the pyrolysis process of individual particles and the tar concentration in the gas as a response to the interaction between hot air and wood particles. These results enable the operation to be estimated for a particular reactor and allow access to details that could not have been gained through measurements alone. A detailed analysis of results enables engineers to improve reactor design for higher energy efficiency. Such reactors not only improve operating conditions, but also allow for a more sustainable use of resources.
A strong international partnership for innovative engineering
These outstanding results were possible thanks to a partnership between Prof. Bernhard Peters as the principal investigator at the University of Luxembourg, and the German SME inuTech with its complementary expertise in designing software for multi-physics applications.
Strategic partners from the academic and industrial sectors, namely FLSmidth (Germany), the Lithuanian Energy Institute (Lithuania) and Paul Wurth (Luxembourg), also made significant contributions thanks to their expertise and because of the industry-relevant applications that they brought on board. Therefore, the AMST project was able to close a large technological gap for research and industry, and will contribute significantly to multi-physics research in Europe. It will make a strong impact on innovative engineering, sustainable inter-sectorial collaboration and, above all, improve European competitiveness.