A research project between Teesside University and a North East business looking at how advanced computer simulation can be used in product testing has been rated at the highest possible standard.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with PSI Global has been given a grade of ‘Outstanding’ for its research into how Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software can be used to study the flow of gases within a vacuum pump.

PSI Global, which is based in Bowburn, County Durham, manufactures filters and separators for the compressed air and vacuum industries and the KTP will enable the company to reduce the time and labour used for product testing by up to 70%.

As part of the KTP, Nausheen Basha, an MSc (Hons) Aerospace Engineering graduate, was placed within the company. She used the CFD software to construct a Virtual Vacuum Model (VVM) which visualised how different types of separators, used to filter oil from air, affect the flow of gases within a pump.

As a result, PSI Global is now able to respond more effectively to clients’ needs and bring new products to market much quicker.

KTPs typically last for two years and are a collaboration between a university and a company. They are part-funded by Innovate UK to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills.

Lloyd Cochrane, technical manager at PSI Global, said: “The KTP has had an enormous impact on our company.

“Prior to undertaking the KTP we had to rely on physical prototyping and testing on a bespoke testing rig, which was extremely labour, time and cost intensive.

“We now have a system whereby early stage design of new vacuum pump systems can be trialled, improved and validated much earlier than previously possible by modelling the system virtually, prior to prototyping.

“Ultimately this could reduce the development time for new products by as much as 70%.”

Throughout the KTP, Nausheen was supervised by Dr Faik Hamad from the University’s School of Science & Engineering.

The grade of Outstanding for the KTP, given by an external, independent assessor for Innovate UK, builds upon the University’s excellent reputation in this field.

Over recent years, of the KTPs undertaken by the University, 75% have been awarded the top two grades, with 62% graded ‘Outstanding’. This compares with national averages of 58% achieving the top two grades and 17% graded Outstanding.

Dr Hamad said: “We are delighted to have received this rating of Outstanding and it is a testament to the hard work of everybody involved.

“This was an extremely interesting project which I am sure will have huge benefits for PSI Global.

“The findings from the research are already being utilised in teaching our students here at the University.”

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