The objective is to develop novel, step-change designs of process plant, particularly where this involves multiphase flow. Power fluidics is not a single technology; rather it is an approach to process design that relies upon detailed understanding of fundamental fluid mechanics to create equipment of greatly enhanced functionality. Typically the building blocks of a power fluidic system will include jets, venturis, coander devices and vortex chambers and these are arranged to provide novel mixers, pumps, valves, reactors and so on all giving precise performance with no moving parts, extremely low maintenance requirements and high functionality in adverse and hostile operating conditions.
The technology is well established for applications including aerospace, advanced combustion plant and the nuclear industry and this group has worldwide standing amongst the relatively small numbers of highly skilled practitioners of this type of technology. Recent successes have included a no moving part flow switch which protects catalytic converters from exposure to exhaust gases in cars until high temperature conditions have been reached. Down-hole data logging equipment for the Oil & Gas Industry and design of passive safety systems for a Japanese nuclear reactor. Power fluidics has enormous future potential for modernisation of Oil & Gas Production Plant as well as in development of radically new designs of reactor. The intellectual challenges derive from the dynamic instability of many of the Power Fluidic components and also of the resulting systems and this requires each plant to be individually tested.
The aim over the next 5 years is to concentrate on multiphase systems, which provide the greatest opportunity for successful application and to develop sufficient understanding of the behaviour of Power Fluidic components and how they interact under dynamic conditions to allow design to be placed on a more routine basis. As part of that work we are aiming to develop a "molecular dynamics -like" simulation of the interaction of small-scale, but non-colloidal size, particles, bubbles and droplets. The simulations will be used to build statistical models for the complex fluid behaviour across a range of applications including multiphase pipelines and particle product engineering.