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Integrating research training in particle & powder technology to deliver efficient products with high functionality

Periodic Report Summary 1 - POWTECH (Integrating research training in particle & powder technology to deliver efficient products with high functionality)

The objective of PowTech ITN is to integrate inter-sectorial and multidisciplinary research in particle and powder technology into the training of 15 young researchers, to strengthen the competitiveness of food and pharmaceutical industry and to strengthen the European Research Area.

The PowTech ITN started on 1 March 2011 and the last ESR was contracted in February 2012. About 200 applicants have applied for PowTech positions. There is a good gender and geographic distribution of the ESRs. 7 are female and 8 are male. 8 students come Europe (3 France, 2 from Spain, 1 Sweden, 1 Italy, 1 Turkey) and 7 from outside Europe (US, China, Vietnam, India, Colombia, Bangladesh, Tunisia).

The PowTech Graduate School is aligned with the research objectives of the project and aims to develop highly qualified ESRs who are well equipped for developing research in close collaboration with industry. The training aims to educate the ESRs how to conduct research and to manage projects, communicate results effectively, commercialise research, providing them with an in-depth education in particle & powder technology and to open their minds to innovation and the factors that influence the realisation of research ideas into commercial reality. So far the PowTech ITN has organized so far 13 training courses.

The Focused Research programme uses an engineering design approach consisting of an understanding of powder structure from a molecular to a macro disperse scale during powder formation/modification combined with modelling of fluid mechanical & thermal models and with kinetics of relevant powder properties (food flavour, nutrient/active compound release, etc). Advanced modelling of structure-function relations are also included. The long-term aim is to provide tools allowing minimal pilot plant trials for development of new products and optimisation of processes. This approach has a large innovation potential and will provide improved competitiveness for producers of powders and powder processing equipment due to their increased interdisciplinary knowledge. The specific objectives of the research activities are:
•To create knowledge and technology for development of high quality particulate products fitted to deliver specific function and
•To develop tools for control of powder processing towards a more effective manufacture

The engineering design approach previously described will be applied to understand how powder functionality can be achieved during powder formation and powder modification. This knowledge and the tools developed will be applied to control of powder processing. The ESRs have showed good progress in their research work. Main research achievements in each network are:

Network team: Powder Formation
Different ways to affect particle size and shape have been explored for different applications. Conclusions are starting to be drawn on the underpinning mechanisms for the formation particle structure in spray drying. A novel atomisation technique and a tool box is been developed to predict the behaviour in the spraying process. All projects have also devoted efforts to the development of the appropriate analytical techniques for characterisation of their processes and products, and innovative protocols are in place for most analytical needs.

Network team: Powder Modification
Quantitative characterization methodologies to evaluated coating processes have been developed or adapted to the systems/equipment under study. Coating coverage and strength have been evaluated for dry coating, coating homogeneity and porosity of fine particles during Atomic Layer Deposition, and agglomeration in an industrial coating reactor. Furthermore a toolbox for quantifying the powder properties and mixing quality has been developed for fat based powder liquids. The first steps to develop a more complete CFD model of the fluid bed coating that can model large scale industrial applications have been done. The dense discrete phase model (DDPM), implemented in Ansys Fluent, was tested to study the particle movement and results were in good agreement with data reported in literature and will be validated by the positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) technique before this summer. Optimisation of an industrial reactor has been achieved by thermal and mass balance analysis leading to an increase of the productivity of 4.5 fold. A macroscopic model is underdevelopment developed to generalize the analysis.

Network team: Control of Powder Processing
First successful steps in developing modeling approaches and testing / validating them based on experimental data or literature experimental data have been achieved. Experimental set ups have also been implemented to follow up the mixing process and granulation process. Toolboxes containing basic parts of advanced modeling and experimental methodologies have been developed for spray-drying, granulation and mixing. Therewith all ESRs have managed to develop major parts of their toolboxes containing basic parts of advanced modeling and experimental methodologies.

There is a relatively good publication progress for 15 ESRs: one manuscript has been accepted for publication; four manuscripts have been submitted to peer- reviewed journals and at least 3 more will be submitted before the summer. Thirteen proceedings have been published in conferences proceedings, and nine ESRs have hold oral presentations at important congresses such as: PARTEC Nuremberg, Germany 23 - 25. April 2013, 9th European Congress of Chemical Engineering (ECCE9/ECAB2), The Hague, The Netherlands, April 2012 , Fluidization XIV (Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands), May 2013; 6th Granulation workshop, Sheffield, June, 2013.

In addition information about the PowTech ITN has been disseminated at 17 different events.