DAVID HARBOTTLE graduated from Leeds in July 2004 with a first-class degree in Chemical Engineering. He is now a director and chief scientist of Rheokinisis, a spin-out company from the university. Harbottle’s research in the Institute of Particle Science and Engineering has focused on developing a novel sensor to determine the rheological properties of fine particle slurries. The study has looked at utilising, exploiting and developing an established piece of technology, quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), to study solid-liquid systems. The resulting set of experiments had proven that QCM-type technologies could be used as a very sensitive tool to monitor particle-particle interactions.
This novel result is now being exploited through the design and application of new measurement tools by Rheokinisis. The potential uses of such tools are extensive. Many industrial operations encounter processes where it is important to control the rheology of a slurry to maintain suitable operating conditions. Harbottle has been involved in the project from its inception. He has provided significant intellectual investment and has led the idea from concept to proof-of-concept status. With no published data in this area and little theoretical knowledge, he drove the development of an experimental matrix of experiments that have provided the required understanding of such systems.
He has also been involved in the set-up and day-to-day running of Rheokinisis, which will prove the concept, develop the instrumentation and market the product. There is currently interest from the nuclear, mining, pharmaceutical, water and food industries. At present, there are no devices that use the same technology to measure the rheological properties of particulate slurries. It is the intention to file a patent in the next six months that will provide protection on the instrument.