Virtual Centre for Industrial & Process Tomography
Industrial & Process Tomography
What is the Virtual Centre?
The UK is the leading centre of process tomography in the world. The Virtual Centre for Industrial and Process Tomography (VCIPT) was set up in 1996 through the major "Technology Foresight Challenge" initiative by academic researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Manchester with a £3.3M budget. The original consortium of 15 small and large companies and research universities was formed to apply the technology developed in universities to live industrial processes.
The VCIPT is in its third phase of development in which the Centre is led and managed by researchers at the universities of Leeds and Manchester. A key to the development and progress of this revolutionary technology is the formation of a consortium of industrial companies with complementary interests.
Aims and Objectives
The VCIPT promotes the interaction of industrial participants with a highly multi-disciplinary research group comprising 28 university staff, with the primary aim being to advance the field of industrial process tomography to best meet the long-term needs of its participants. It integrates a wide range of research skills: computing, physics, electronics, maths, process engineering and particle science, interfaced with users from diverse sectors: food, minerals, pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals.
The VCIPT's operational objectives are to:
- manage pre-competitive research between academics and industry;
- transfer technology to apply research;
- ensure continuity of world-leading research in on-line sensors;
- raise awareness of industrial process tomography potential;
- maintain funding for a visible international presence and critical mass of expertise;
- foster international linkages.
Structure and Management
The VCIPT consortium is represented in corporate terms through the University of Leeds, which manages interactions with the other academic partners, and undertakes formal responsibilities such as the auditing of accounts.
The activities and programme of the VCIPT is managed by a core management team consisting of: academic researchers and industrial representatives. The team is supported by:
- a technical planning group, who review the research landscape, consult with industrial and academic members and organise peer reviews of research proposals
- part-time administrator who co-ordinates communications, organises meetings etc...
- University industrial liaison officers who manage contracts and intellectual property
The core management team meets four times per year, and there are two briefings per year. One decides on new research proposals and allocation of internal funds and the other is focussed on the needs of industrial consortium partners. In addition it is aimed to hold an annual training event, which is open to both members and non-members.
The research strategy is based on mapping out the landscape of existing tomography research and identifying common areas of interest for exploration and further development. The landscape is drawn up by reviewing tomography in three generic areas:
- process applications, such as solid-liquid separation, fluidization, fluid mixing or multiphase flows, in process sectors offering particular challenges (high temperature, metal walled vessels, intrinsic safety etc). These applications address generic themes in the field of modelling, optimisation and control.
- development of sensing modalities, including impedance, capacitance, optical, ultrasound etc. Modalities are developed from initial proof of concept through to meeting the speed, cost and sensitivities required for industrial application.
- fundamentals of tomography, such as algorithms, data fusion, new sensor strategies and circuit improvements.