Tracking granular flows using instrumented grains

Granular materials are ubiquitous in nature (e.g. sand and other soils) and in industry (e.g. corn, sugar, detergents, pharmaceutical tablets, pellets). The mechanics of granular processes are therefore of major importance across many different applications, scientific disciplines and industries, for example failure of soils and landslides (geotechnical engineering), design of silos (structural/process engineering), tabletting (pharmaceutical engineering), soil erosion (coastal/agricultural engineering), and degradation of railway ballast (railway engineering). All these applications require understanding, simulation and prediction of granular flows. This is difficult, due to the complex solid-, liquid- and gas-like behaviour of these materials.


We need robust, accurate, cheap methods for tracking granular flows, easily deployable in the lab and in situ. This project aims to develop the prototype for an industrially applicable technology for tracking granular flows using instrumented grains (IGs). The proposed research will establish the potential of existing IG technology, for use in the detailed tracking of granular flows. The project will determine issues related to measurements from individual IGs, but will also identify issues to be solved in order to scale up to measurements using multiple IGs.


In parallel with the experimental campaign, the project will focus on numerical simulations of granular flows using the Discrete Element Method to identify how hybrid experimental-numerical tests can best be deployed to increase our ability to simulate and predict the behaviour of granular flows in industrial applications.

Closing Date: 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Candidates must have a good background in soil mechanics, granular physics, particle technology or experimental mechanics.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: