Keep it Clean: The Role of Shear in Automated Washing

Keep it Clean: The Role of Shear in Automated Washing

BASF is the largest chemical company in the world and the second largest supplier of chemicals in North America. This project is sponsored from the research group Amphiphilic Systems North America, which develops new products for the Home and Personal Care industry.

Detergents for laundry and dishwashing machines are complex formulations optimized to achieve maximum cleaning effectiveness in a variety of wash conditions and for a broad variety of dirt and stains. The main ingredients of every detergent are surfactants, which are amphiphilic molecules that can change the interfacial tension of hydrophobic materials to be able to detach them from a substrate and to disperse them in water. Also, with the rise of automated cleaning and decreased water usage during the washing process, the shear provided by the machine has to play a more important role.

BASF supplies these surfactants to detergent manufacturers and is constantly trying to make surfactants more efficient by better understanding the influence of shear in the washing process and what properties of the surfactants allow a better dirt removal under shear.

The student team will build on previous BASF knowledge including controlled testing mechanisms of surfactant behavior in static environments and experimental results of full wash cleaning tests. The team will develop a numerical model of the dirt removal process based on the properties of the surfactants and incorporating the variable of shear.  The model should be capable of accurately predicting surfactant performance in washing tests based on these inputs in order to reduce physical testing.

More Information


Students who successfully match to this project team will be required to sign the following two documents in January 2018:

Click here to view Student IP Agreement

Click here to view NDA

How to Apply

Project Features

  • Skill level All levels
  • Students 6-7 Students
  • Course Substitutions Honors, Chem 399, ChE Elec, ME 490, ME 590
  • IP & NDA Required? Yes
  • Summer Opportunity Summer Funding Application
  • Physical Chemistry: Molecular Functionality (3 Students)

    Good physical chemistry skills with a focus at the molecular level, particularly processes of absorption, desorption, interfacial tension. Excellent laboratory skills.

    • Likely Majors: CHEM, BIOCHEM, ChE, PHYS
  • Physical Chemical Modeling: Systems Level (1-2 Students)

    Good physical chemistry skills focused at a systems level. Ability to apply kinetic and thermodynamic models to experimental systems. Numeric modeling of physical and chemical systems.

    • Likely Majors: CHEM, BIOCHEM, ChE
  • Fluid Mechanics (1 Student)

    Basic computational fluid mechanics/fluid modeling techniques of shear within systems. Experimental measurement of shear. Numeric modeling of systems. General chemistry knowledge. Must have some experience in chemistry.

    • Likely Majors: ME, PHYS, AERO, MATH
  • Applied Mathematical Modeling (1 student)

    Multi-parameter mathematical model development, design of experiments, experimental data validation of models. Basic Coding and data manipulation skills.

    • Likely Majors: MATH, DS, STATS

Faculty Mentor: Paul Zimmerman
Assistant Professor
The Zimmerman group specializes in developing predictive simulation techniques and their use to drive forward physical, synthetic, and materials chemistry research efforts. In this variety of application areas, the group has created and employed new quantum chemical tools to help design experiments and greatly speed up the development of new catalysts and solar active materials.
Sponsor Mentor: Frank Reinhold
Research Manager
Manager of a research team for Amphiphilic Systems in North America serving business units in the fields of Home Care, Personal Care, I&I, Fuel Additives, Lubricants, Oilfield & Mining Chemicals, Agro Chemicals and Plastic & Coating Additives.