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PhD position titled: Electrohydrodynamic air propulsion device for fast, low-energy drying of biomedical equipment in St. Gallen

EMPA (European Master of Public Administration Consortium) is a network of European schools, that offer master programs in public administration.


Our laboratory. Empa’s Laboratory of Biomimetic Membranes and Textilesaims to develop materials and systems for the protection of the human body and its health. The products developed in collaboration with industry are used in the fields of occupational safety, sport, medical applications and health-tech.

. The principle behind electrohydrodynamic (EHD) drying is that airflow is generated by means of corona discharge, so-called ionic wind. This ionic wind can be used to enhance heat and mass transfer from wet products that are placed in this airflow field. Electrohydrodynamic drying is a non-thermal technology, with a faster drying rate and lower energy consumption than conventional convective drying. A key application is the convective removal of surface water on medical equipment after washing.

. This project aims at developing a new flow propulsion device, based on electrohydrodynamics. This device boosts drying rates while at the same time significantly reducing energy consumption. To achieve this goal, the candidate will design and optimize the new electrohydrodynamic device, by using computational fluid dynamics. Afterward, prototypes of optimal device designs are 3D printed and evaluated experimentally using flow diagnostics (anemometry). To this end,an advanced, lab-scale setup for electrohydrodynamic analysis is built. Afterward, the prototype is integrated into the biomedical device. This R&D project is performed in collaboration with a biomedical company.

Your tasks

  • Designing, building and operating a lab-scale experimental setup to test the electrohydrodynamic air propulsion device. Typical measurement methods include airspeed measurements, thermal measurements, and electrical power quantification.
  • Design and 3D print prototypes and evaluate them with flow diagnostics.
  • Optimize electrohydrodynamic device design using computational fluid dynamics.
  • Writing a patent and publications.

Your profile

  • Completed Master`s degree in engineering or physics
  • Experience in computational fluid dynamics and CAD modeling
  • Experience in measurements of fluid dynamics(anemometry, PIV)
  • Experience in electrohydrodynamics (experimental or numerical) is considered advantageous.
  • Excellent communication skills and fluency in English (both written and oral) are mandatory. Knowledge of German is considered advantageous.

A project duration of 3 years is envisaged to carry out the above research tasks in the form of a PhD thesis. The project is supported by Empa
under the supervision of Thijs Defraeye, but involves an envisaged joint affiliation with KU Leuven (Belgium). The candidate will perform the research at Empa in St. Gallen, but with a regular exchange to KU Leuven. The desired starting date is 1st of March 2019 or upon mutual agreement.

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St. Gallen
Chemie / Pharmazie
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