Flow of flexible suspensions at high Reynolds number using DEM-CFD coupling

Post-doc project

The project aims to answer some of the questions pertaining to the behavior of fiber suspensions subjected to complex flows. Using a previously developed numerical tool (Kunhappan 2017) which is based on the coupling of a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver with Discrete Element Method (DEM) solver, the flow mechanics of the suspending medium and the fiber deformation can be studied. The aim of the project is two-fold.

First, we intend to study the flow control characteristics of fiber based suspensions, i.e. derive a detailed mechanism of turbulence transition and turbulence damping with the presence of fibers and apply these results to processes that require control of the homogeneity of the suspended fibers for various fiber concentrations. In term of applications, the turbulence damping effect can minimize the head losses and can be an efficient process to limit the energy consumption for pipeline transportation, for example.

Numerical simulation of a fibre suspension in a turbulent flow (from Kunhappan et al.)

The second objective in the proposed work is to include the effects of chemical interaction (colloidal interactions) between the fibers and study the dynamics of structure formation (‘flocs’) of fibers. This study would give a detailed understanding what processes control the formation of flocs, i.e. is floc formation purely mechanical/chemical or do these mechanisms compete with one another. Homogenization of fiber micro-structure could be then obtained by mechanical effect. In term of applications, this should allow to limit chemical processing for manufacturing of fiber based composites, for example.

This work is a synergy of various competences of Tec21 laboratories, including fluid and solid mechanics, and the numerical simulation in these fields. This would allow in the development of a unique tool to study multiphysics phenomena in complex configurations (confined turbulent flows, chemical interaction at the fibers scale).

The numerical tool developed will allow to develop new collaborations in Tec21 community (as LRP or LGP2, for example), but also to promote the unique expertise of Grenoble laboratories to the industry.


  • PI: Deepak Kunhappan
  • Co-PI: Barthélémy Harthong, Guillaume Balarac, Pierre Dumont
  • Post-doc: Deepak Kunhappan


  • 3SR
  • LEGI
  • LAMCOS (Lyon, France)