Research impact

Flow modelling research leads to innovative and profitable products

Research team

Dr J Summers, Dr M Wilson, Professor N Kapur, Professor H Thompson

External collaborators

Professor M Savage, School of Physics, University of Leeds; Professor P Gaskell, University of Durham; Professor SJ Abbott, R&D Director MacDermid Autotype, 1998-2011; Professor VV Toropov, Queen Mary, University of London; P.Core, D. Copley, A. Mincher, Parker Hannifin Ltd.


Our flow modelling and process optimisation research has improved significantly the scientific understanding of key industrial coating, printing and droplet flow systems. We have implemented our research findings in software tools for staff training and process optimisation which have enabled, for example: (i) the worldwide coating industry to improve the productivity and sustainability of their manufacturing processes; (ii) a major automotive supply company to develop an award-winning droplet filtration system for diesel engines. These innovations have resulted in ongoing product sales and manufacturing contracts worth several millions pounds.


Our research has developed accurate flow modelling and process optimisation methodologies for a number of industrial coating, printing and droplet flow systems. Key research challenges that have been addressed and overcome include: (i) the development of computationally inexpensive flow models and geometry parametrisation methods which can account accurately for the controlling influences of surface-tension dominated gas-liquid boundary conditions and (ii) development of efficient optimisation methodologies so that the flow geometry and operating conditions can be optimised by industry end-users using software routines running on desktop computers. This approach has combined high fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics with efficient stochastic optimisation methods and has been deployed successfully for a range of important coating, printing and droplet flow systems, including roll and gravure coating [1], inkjet and screen printing [2] and droplet flows in diesel filtration engines [3,4,5].


  • Innovative and profitable coated products: Macdermid Autotype, a global manufacturer of high quality precision coated films, has exploited the Leeds roll coating and screen printing models to develop several innovative and highly profitable products.
  • An award-winning crankcase droplet filter: Leeds’ flow optimization software tools have been exploited by Parker Hannifin Ltd to develop a commercially successful filtration system which won the Grand Prix prize at the 2012 British Engineering Excellence Awards.
  • Knowledge Transfer to Industry: the Leeds team initiated the highly successful European Coating Symposia and have lectured on Coating and Drying to hundreds of industrialists throughout Europe.


[1]. Thompson, H.M., Kapur N, Gaskell, P.H., Summers, J.L, Abbott, S.J. (2001). "A theoretical and experimental investigation of reservoir-fed, rigid roll coating", Chemical Engineering Science, 56, 4627-4641.

[2]. Kapur, N., Abbott, S.J., Dolden, E.D., Gaskell, P.H. (2013). "Predicting the behaviour of screen printing, IEEE Transactions on Components", Packaging and Manufacturing Technology, 3(3), 508-515. DOI: 10.1109/TCPMT.2012.2228743.

[3]. Fan, J., Wilson, M.C.T., Kapur, N. (2011). "Displacement of liquid droplets on a surface by shearing air flow", Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 356, 286-292.

[4]. Eves J, Toropov, V.V., Thompson HM, Kapur, N, Fan J, Copley D, Mincher A (2012) "Design optimization of supersonic jet pumps using high fidelity flow analysis", Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization 45(5) 739-745 DOI: 10.1007/s00158-011-0726-8.

[5]. Fan, J., Eves, J., Thompson, H.M., Toropov, V.V. Kapur, N., Copley, D., Mincher, A. (2011). "Computational fluid dynamic analysis and design optimization of jet pumps", Computers Fluids, 46, 212-217. DOI: 10.1016/j.compfluid.2010.10.024.