Virtual Prototyping of Particulate Processes (ViPr) – Design and Optimisation via Multiscale Modelling and Rapid Prototyping


Particulate materials are the most manipulated substance on the planet, after water. They are of paramount importance to the chemical-pharmaceutical, agri-food, energy, high-tech manufacturing, mining, and construction industries.
However, their unique behaviour cannot be captured comprehensively in macroscopic (continuum) models, while microscopic (discrete) models are too inefficient to handle the enormous number of particles. This has so far prevented the development of efficient computational models for particulates, which already exist for fluids and solids. Hence, while cars and airplanes are nowadays designed on the computer, particulate-handling industries still rely on time-consuming and expensive experimentation.
To realise virtual prototyping of particulate processes, I will use a novel multiscale approach, microscopically resolving regions where general macroscopic models fail. From these multiscale simulations, I will extract efficient, application-specific macro-models and use them to understand and design innovative particulate-handling machinery. Two timely applications will be developed in collaboration with industry: additive manufacturing, the future of many high-tech industries; and continuous granulation, an aspiration of the pharma industry. Rapid prototyping will be used to create miniature setups, enabling validation and calibration from a single experiment.
I am uniquely positioned to carry out this research, having extensive experience in micro- and macro-modelling, coupling, open-source development, model validation, and mesh refinement. The central pillar of this project is coarse-graining, an innovative new coupling technique, developed by me, that is used by universities and industry around the world. Via coarse-graining, my team will integrate two highly-regarded open-source softwares, MercuryDPM, which I founded, and oomph-lib. We will be the first to apply goal-oriented refinement to particulate systems, guaranteeing efficiency and robustness of the integrated software.
All advanced algorithms created in this project will be released open-source, meaning immediate dissemination to academia and industry. This will enable a significant speed-up in the design and optimisation of numerous particulate-handling applications.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. T. Weinhart

Affiliated with

Universiteit Twente, Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET), Mechanical Engineering, Thermal and Fluid Engineering


15/11/2018 to 30/08/2023