Ian Wilson delivered the SCI Henry Armstrong Memorial Lecture at the University of Chester's new Science and Engineering Faculty on the evening of 6th November 2014.
His subject was 'Soft Solids are hard work'. Soft solids are structured materials that do not fit comfortably into classical descriptions of fluids (which tend to flow) and solids (which tend to stay put). Familiar examples are plasticine, MarmiteTM, cookie doughs and cake batters. Their behaviour derives from their multiphase structure, which also imparts their functionality and product properties. Working out how to process such materials, to create or to maintain these structures, requires a fusion of different engineering and scientific approaches to generate workable solutions. There are aspects of art in determining which scientific problems need to be solved. The lecture was illustrated by examples from the food, pharmaceutical and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sectors, with elements of fluid and soil mechanics, rheology and chemistry, as well as some edible demonstrations.
The lecture was co-organised by the SCI's Liverpool and North-West Section and the Process Engineering Group. The University of Chester has just started a new course in Chemical Engineering. The Faculty is on the former Shell Thornton Research Centre site, next to the Stanlow oil refinery, making the Chester course the only one in the UK where the students can see their principles in action, literally.