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Dr Rachel Smith, RS Industry Fellow

Rachel Smith

RS Fellowship Title: Spray Coating of Powders and Liquid Contact Transfer: Prediction and Scale-Up

Fellowship Start Date and duration: Start date: 1 September 2015 (4 years)

Studentship Title: An investigation into the mechanisms of spray coating of powders and particles in tumbling drums.

Studentship Start Date and duration: Start date: 1 September 2015 (4 years)

Fellowship Research proposal background
A wide range of industries rely on the spray coating of liquids onto powder and particles as an essential step in the manufacturing process. These industries include: dry laundry detergent manufacture, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, and the food industry. The laundry detergent industry is worth US$7 billion per year in the US alone.

The spray coating of powders may seem a simple process, however it involves complex interactions between three discrete phases – solid, liquid and gas. Due to this complexity there are no design or scale up rules which can be used to reliably aid process development, and design and scale up is generally accomplished through trial and error. This results in enormous waste of resources and time, and results in product differences across equipment of different scale, type and location. Procter & Gamble estimate that 40% of dry laundry plant trials in 2013 were to define spray coating process conditions; this high proportion the result of a lack of understanding of the scale-up and design of the spray coating process.

The aim of this research is to develop new, useful design and scale up rules for the spray coating process, and to consolidate links with Procter & Gamble with a view to their long-term development.

Joshua GreenStudent background
Joshua Green gained his MEng in Chemical Engineering from Loughborough University, UK in 2015. As part of my undergraduate studies, he competed both an industrial placement year and a semester abroad, working for first GlaxoSmithkline, UK, as a junior placement engineer in tablet manufacturing, and then later conducting research in the department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, where he investigated 'distribution nucleation’ within powder granulation.

He began his PhD in late 2015 at the University of Sheffield, supervised by Dr Rachel Smith, and is focusing on investigating the mechanisms of liquid spray coating of powders and particles in tumbling drums.

Rachel's academic background:
Dr Rachel Smith completed her BEng in Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2000, and was awarded a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Queensland in 2008. In that same year she joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia as a post-doctoral research fellow.  In February 2012 she joined the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield as a lecturer, and was awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship in 2015.

Rachel’s research group now consists of myself, postdoctoral researcher Dr Kate Pitt, and 8 PhD students, working on a range of projects related to powder processing and other industries.  The group’s active projects include work in powder and particle coating, wet granulation, flocculation and fluidised bed drying.

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