The Messel Bursary enabled me to attend the ‘Sixth International Symposium on Mixing in Industrial Process Industries’ conference (ISMIP VI), which was held at Niagara Falls, Canada, on 17-21 August 2008.
The ISMIP VI conference created an environment where members of the global fluid mixing community across academia, industry and both private and governmental research institutions could discuss the latest research developments, and assess the quality of existing and new mixing technologies available on the market.
During the five-day event, discussions were opened every morning and evening by guest speakers who delivered plenary presentations. These talks summarised challenges facing various mixing industries (e.g. pulp stock and industrial slurries), and put forth suggestions as to how mixing in industrial processes could be improved based on the current state of knowledge. The plenary sessions set the agenda for presentations by leading academics and research students, and offered the perspective of industrialists too. The forum addressed diverse subject matters within the mixing field, such as mixing of viscous and complex fluids, multiphase flows, reactive systems and numerical and computational modelling of mixing systems.
My research title is ‘Studies of turbulent flows in multiphase chemical reactors’. The purpose of my research is to investigate the hydrodynamics of solid-liquid stirred flow phenomena. This is a challenging area of research for fluid dynamicists due to the complexity of experiments required for such studies, and involves the development of new measurement technologies, which I am exploiting in my work.
At the conference, I presented the ‘Application of fluorescent Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and digital image analysis to measure turbulence properties of solid-liquid stirred suspensions’, which describes a technique for measuring velocities of agitated multiphase flows. Results of my experiments were also presented which showed the effect of dispersed solid particles on the continuous phase fluid turbulence.
The presentation was followed by a question and answer session, giving the audience the opportunity to probe my work in depth. It also tested my ability to answer questions logically and defend my research, which will be excellent preparation for my final PhD viva. I realised that my work is of interest and value to a range of other people, which has given me a renewed outlook on my project. The panel also gave me some ideas for improving my experimental work, which I’m now planning to implement.
Attending other presentations gave me an insight into less familiar areas across the mixing community, including computational fluid dynamics. I also learned about research activities in journal articles prior to publication. This can take up to a year from the date of submission.
The conference also hosted evening poster sessions and practical demonstrations of new mixing technologies, during which attendees were able to interact in a more informal manner and discuss issues raised earlier in the day. During these sessions I was made more aware of the industrial relevance of my own work (in reactive mixing processes for instance), which could increase the scope of my research.
Attendance at the ISMIP VI conference gave me the opportunity to liaise with experts in the subject area and foster connections with industrialists in the UK and overseas. The network will not only aid me throughout the course of my PhD, but will also be a good point of contact with potential employers, as I approach the period of assessing my career options in the near future.
I believe that communicating my ideas via an oral presentation to a large audience has strengthened my ability to converse with professionals collectively, in a lucid manner. Not only has this conference extended my academic abilities, but it has made me a more confident and competent PhD researcher.
I would like to thank the SCI Awards Committee for granting me the Messel Bursary. The experience has been invaluable for both my academic and personal development, and would not have been possible without the contribution. I would also like to thank my research supervisors Prof Chris Rielly and Dr Zoltan Nagy for their immense support and guidance.
Miss Heema Unadkat