Visualising the invisible: from maths to modelling
is providing valuable insights into processes ranging from huge avalanches
to industrial systems around the world, with some of the most cutting edge
work occurring in Australia.
Dr Paul Cleary, of CSIRO's Mathematical and Information Sciences has applied the modelling technique to a wide variety of situations over the years, including simulating the collision behaviour of rocks in mills and crushing devices as well as huge 'virtual' avalanches in Northern Californian mountains.
A specialist in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for the past fifteen years, Dr Cleary's current work is helping to revolutionise the development of mineral processing and metal production systems.
The models are generated through the application of mathematical equations of motion and advanced computer software, and as Dr Cleary explains, the benefits are significant.
"CFD modelling provides an extremely cost-effective and efficient way to test a large number of variables in a process or system," he says.
"The technique can be used at the beginning of process development to predict complex flow patterns and heat transfer instead of building laboratory or pilot scale facilities."
"It also allows us to refine conditions throughout the development of a process and measurements are not restricted by the temperature and complex geometry that often present hurdles in a real system," says Dr Cleary.
Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), a variant of the traditional CFD technique is an area that Dr Cleary is particularly interested in.
"In this modelling system, materials are represented by particles which are free to move around, rather than the fixed grids or mesh that are used in other CFD techniques," he says.
Dr Cleary and colleagues are currently using Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), to help speed development of a novel process involving a solvent route to produce magnesium.
During the magnesium production project, SPH will be used to answer numerous questions including behaviour of the magnesia/carbon pellets, temperature characteristics, reaction time and metal recovery quantities.
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The Light Metals Flagship is a CSIRO initiative and part of the National Research Flagships program that aims to deliver scientific solutions to advance Australia's most important national objectives. One of the largest scientific initiatives ever mounted in Australia, it aligns closely with the Federal Government's National Research Priorities. The initiative brings together our national research resources to deliver breakthroughs in fields ranging from healthcare to light metals and the environment.