Research into Multi-scale Examination of MultiPHase physIcs in flowS (MEMPHIS)

This project is an opportunity to harness the synergy between world-leading scientists from four prestigious institutions to create the next generation modelling tools for complex multiphase flows. These flows are central to micro-fluidics, virtually every processing and manufacturing technology, oil-and-gas and nuclear applications, and biomedical applications such as lithotripsy and laser-surgery cavitation.

The ability to predict the behaviour of multiphase flows reliably will address a major challenge of tremendous economic, scientific, and societal benefit to the UK. The Programme will achieve this goal by developing a single modelling framework that establishes, for the first time, a transparent linkage between input (models and/or data) and prediction; this will allow systematic error-source identification, and, therefore, directed, optimal, model-driven experimentation, to maximise prediction accuracy.

The framework will also feature optimal selection of massively-parallelisable numerical methods, capable of running efficiently on 105-106 core supercomputers, optimally-adaptive, three-dimensional resolution, and the most sophisticated multi-scale physical models. This framework will offer unprecedented resolution of multi-scale, multiphase phenomena, minimising the reliance on correlations and empiricism. The investigators’ synergy, and their long-standing industrial collaborations, will ensure that this Programme will result in a paradigm-shift in multiphase flow research worldwide.

We will demonstrate our capabilities in two areas of strategic importance to the UK: by providing insights into novel manufacturing processes, and reliable prediction of multiphase flow regime transitions in the oil-and-gas industry. Our framework will be sufficiently general to address a number of other industrial and environmental global challenges, which we detail in Applications and Impact.








Similarity of multiphase flows in applications that span the FMCG and oil-and-gas sectors, amongst others, in terms of common flow features. We show the formation of waves, long filaments and droplets in wavy-stratified oil-water flows[1], (a), and gas-driven co-axial liquid jetting (b, top[2]) and turbulent water atomisation in still air (b, bottom[3]); thin film formation in gas-liquid ‘churn’ (c[4]) and ‘annular’ flows  (d, top[5]), and large waves, droplet entrainment and bubble entrapment in ‘slug’ flows (d, bottom[6]); multiple-emulsion formation in micro-fluidics, (e, top[7] and bottom2 show experiments and simulation, respectively), and oil-and-water flows in stirred vessels (f, top[8]) and downward pipe flows (f, bottom[9])


[1] Al-Wahaibi, T., Smith, M., Angeli, P., Chem. Eng. Sci. 62 (2007), 2929-2940.

[2] Marmottant, P., Villermaux, E., J. Fluid Mech. 498 (2004), 73-112.

[3] Hoyt, J.W., Taylor, J., J. Fluid Mech. 83 (1977), 119-127.

[4] Sharaf, S. PhD Thesis, University of Nottingham (2011).

[5] Badie, S., Lawrence, C.J., Hewitt, G.F., Int J. Multiphase Flow 27 (2001), 1259-1269.

[6] Davies, S.R., PhD Thesis, University of London, (1992).

[7] Shum, H. et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 50 (2011), 1648 –1651.

[8] Liu, L., Matar, O.K., Lawrence, C.J., Hewitt, G.F., Chem. Eng. Sci. 61 (2006), 4007-4021.

[9] Liu, L., Matar, O.K., Hewitt, G.F., Chem. Eng. Sci. 61 (2006), 4022-4026.



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