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The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology


The Wolfson Centre is a world leader in the research, consultancy and education of the technologies concerned with the storage, handling, and physical processing of powders and granular solid materials.

The distinctive contribution of the Centre is an on-going programme of developing empirical and computational tools to enable industry to enhance plant availability and throughput, and improve product quality. The thrust of the research is to focus on the development of experimental characterisation and modelling techniques for predicting the complex behaviour of particulates in handling, storage, and processing equipment, and the development of appropriate strategies for predicting and minimising or eliminating attendant problems. This endeavour was recently recognised by an Institution of Chemical Engineers international award.

The 12-strong team of engineers is supported by a unique range of characterisation and pilot size test facilities housed in a new, purpose-built laboratory of 420m². The research endeavour of the Centre is sustained by grants from the EU, EPSRC, UK government departments, NGOs, charitable bodies, and Industry. The Centre also has a leading international programme of contract research and consultancy, as evidenced by undertaking some 350 contracts for multi-national organisations and SMEs, in UK and overseas, over the last ten years.

Group Awards & Achievements


  • The Wolfson is awarded the IMechE Award for Innovation in Bulk Materials Handling for the development of the Powder Flowability Tester.
  • Prof Mike Bradley is awarded the IMechE Bulk Materials Handling Award for services to the profession.


  • The Wolfson is awarded R&D magazine top 100 Award Winners (USA) for the development of the Powder Flowabilty Tester.


  • The Wolfson in a finalist in the IChemE Innovations Award for the development of the Powder Flowability Tester.
  • The Wolfson is a finalist in the THE Awards for the development of the Powder Flowability Tester.


  • Instrumentation developed during EPRSC-Industry funded QPM™ (Quality in Particulate Based Manufacturing) initiative currently in process of approval by ASTM - American Society of Testing Materials.
  • As a result of collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline via ERSRC RAIS and KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) company created a new particulate storage, handling and processing team to service technical needs in this area in their 85 plants in 37 countries around the world.
  • Highly Commended for development of QPM™ (Quality in Particulate Based Manufacturing) Technology in the Chemistry Innovation KTN Applied Catalysis and Colloid-Particle Science category of IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) International Awards.


  • One of a limited number of university research groups to be invited to showcase expertise at Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC 'Celebration of UK Engineering Research and Innovation', which formed part of the 'International Review of UK Engineering Research' - Centre's expertise showcased in three of sixteen themed areas on display.


  • Cited in HM Treasury sponsored 'Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration' as an exemplar of good practice, and as a case study to support the justification for the creation of a new stream of Government funding to support business-facing research in universities.

Selected Outputs and Publications

  • The Brookfield Powder Flowability Tester (not a journal paper but a product).
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  • Scale-up and design of a continuous microwave treatment system for the processing of oil-contaminated drill cuttings. Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 88 (2), 2010.
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  • Development of a State of the Art Technique for Characterising Powder for Pneumatic Conveying Properties, and Design of Conveying Pipelines.
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  • A Novel Approach to Velocity Measurement of Pneumatically Conveyed Particles Around 90o Bends using Electrostatic Charge Sensors.
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To learn more about our team and research visit our group website

Prof Michael Bradley
Prof Michael Bradley : Wolfson Centre Director

Group Statistics


  • 5 Research Staff
  • 9 Doctoral Students


  • 12 Research Publications.
  • £2,892,000 Total Research and Consultancy Income

Selected Projects

  • Major contribution to overall and detail design on the £210M “Drax Ecostore” project, the world’s largest coal-to-biomass power station conversion (2000MW = 3.5% of the UK’s electricity); This project was funded over a 2 year period by Shepherd Construction and Portasilo Ltd.
  • Development of Air Slide modelling and design procedures. This project was funded by Hydro Aluminium, Norway for 3 years.
  • Predicting degradation of bulk solids during pneumatic conveying. This project was funded by BASF, Germany for 3 years.

Significant Grants


  • Undertaking between 30 to 50 industry-funded research and consultancy projects of total values from £300k to £400k annually.


  • £123k funding from Hydro Aluminium, Norway for the project Air Slide basic design and modelling;
  • £240k EU Marie Curie funding to research into low feed rate dosing of cohesive powders into processes through the manipulation of stress fields in the region of vessel outlet;
  • £135k DEFRA funding to develop a toolkit for controlling flow properties of engineered food powders.


  • £279k from 3 KTP projects with different Industrial companies.


  • £68k BCURA funding to look at improving the performance of discharge equipment used for coal with poor handling qualities.


  • 350 contract research and consultancy contracts undertaken for 260 multi-national organisations and SMEs, in UK and overseas, since 1996.
  • £50,000 EPSRC DTA/Imerys funded project into improving powder flowability to enhance business value of powdered products.


  • €135,000 (£95,000) secured from EU FP6 BioPowders initiative for research into adhesion of flavourings to foodstuffs (Project led by University College, Cork with 11 European universities and 3 industrial partners - total project value €2,550,000).


  • £189,000 secured from DEFRA LINK/Cadbury funded project into the development of rapid techniques for measuring the flow characteristics of powdered materials (Total project value £375,000).
  • £103,000 DTI/GlaxoSmithKline funded KTP project focussing on embedding QPM™ (Quality in Particulate Based Manufacturing) Technology into company operations world-wide.
  • £200,000 grant from The Wolfson Foundation to assist further the £670,000 SRIF supported project to relocate and build new laboratories for Wolfson Centre at Medway Campus.
  • £55,000 secured from DEFRA-DTI/Industry funded project into microwave pyrolysis for treatment of oil contaminated drilling cuttings - with University of Nottingham, BP and British Gas (Total project value £300,000).


  • £85,000 EPSRC/PowdermatriX Faraday funded project concerned with enhancing the quality of powdered and sintered products in the ceramics and powder metallurgy industries (With 17 industrial partners and Universities of Manchester, Leicester/Oxford, Aberdeen and Birmingham - total project value £600,000).
  • £125,000 EPSRC RAIS funded project concerned with embedding QPMTM Technology into 5 multi-national industrial partners - in collaboration with Surrey University, Borax, GlaxoSmithKline, Tate and Lyle, Unilever & United Biscuits (Total project value £295,000 - £160,000 from EPSRC and £135,000 from industrial partners).
  • £60,000 BCURA funded project concerned with the on-line measurement of wall friction as an indicator of the handleability of coals.
  • £60,000 BCURA funded project concerned with the measurement of the flow properties of coal-biomass mixtures.


  • £530,000 - Completion of EPSRC IMI/Industry funded project concerning Quality in Particulate-Based Manufacturing (QPM™) - in collaboration with Surrey University and 7 industrial partners (Total project value £2,750,000 - £1,300,000 from EPSRC and £1,450,000 from industrial partners).
  • £50,000 - Completion of EPSRC/Industry funded project concerning the development of a model to predict the operational life of bends in pneumatic conveying systems - in collaboration with Cambridge University and industrial partners (Total project value £170,000 - £120,000 from EPSRC and £50,000 from industrial partners).