Professor Omar Matar of Imperial College London is set to develop the next generation of predictive tools that can model the flow of crude oil in his role as part of a Petronas/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Multiphase Fluid Dynamics. The new modelling tools, while initially focused on the oil and gas sector, will also be useful across a range of other sectors including manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and the food and drink industry.

Historically, modelling multi-phase fluid flows has been a complex task requiring over-design and empirical correlations to provide the best solution for industry, often at significant cost. Modelling requires an understanding of how molecular-scale interactions combined with temperature and phase changes produce observable behaviour such as wax deposition or asphaltene-based fouling.

Professor Matar’s new predictive tools will enable practitioners to assess the impact of additives, such as chemicals used in crude oil to inhibit wax, finding an optimum solution that can then be tested in the field. This will be particularly beneficial in flow-assurance applications in which crude oil is transported in pipelines over long distances experiencing potentially large temperature variations.

The generic and versatile methodology will also find uses in production plants for products such as spreads, gels and toothpaste. Such plants feature frequent changeovers between products, and cleaning of equipment using turbulent flows to avoid cross-contamination. The cleaning processes are essential for the application of new manufacturing routes involving changes from batch to continuous operation, and Professor Matar’s research will provide valuable tools to ensure these processes are effective and efficient. 

Professor Matar said: “I am delighted to be supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Petronas. I hope that my research will resolve fundamental issues at the heart of the complexity in multiphase flows, which will provide solutions to practitioners across industrial sectors.”

Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, said: “The work of engineers like Professor Matar is vital to the engineering sector, to combine the latest theoretical tools and models with the needs of leading industries. The Royal Academy of Engineering is proud to fund and support his Research Chair to ensure that his innovations in the lab can be put to great use by industry.”   

Dr Shahidah Mohd Shariff, Head Technology Research and CEO of Petronas Research Sdn Bhd (PRSB) said that “Petronas is proud and excited to be a part of this Multi-Phase Fluid Dynamics technological advancement. We hope our collaboration in this research will further strengthen our technology portfolio in both fundamental science and engineering.”

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655;
E: Aaron Boardley