Vidi grant for Thomas Weinhart Research into granular materials

University of Twente researcher Thomas Weinhart, of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, is to receive a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which funds research. He will receive 800,000 euros in order to set up his own research line and group. 

Weinhart works as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, in the department of Thermal and Fluid Engineering at the University of Twente. He is to receive the grant for the ViPr research project. Weinhart is very pleased to have secured the grant. “It will allow me to develop my ideas and to appoint researchers. In short, it gives me independence as a scientist.” 

Granular materials

Weinhart’s work at the University of Twente involves research into granular materials. They occur extensively in nature and in society, but in practice it is very hard to describe and predict accurately how these materials are likely to behave. By way of example, Weinhart refers to avalanches, where snow that is initially static assumes the character of a liquid and even a gas, and then returns to being static again.   


The foodstuffs industry is one of many sectors where there is great demand for methods for predicting how different types of particle interact. However, experiments into the behaviour of these particles are costly and time-consuming. During this research project, Weinhart will therefore be working on methods for simulating the behaviour of particle processes on a computer. 


With existing techniques, it is currently only possible to describe the behaviour of these materials at micro level (where you identify the behaviour of individual particles) or macro level (where you have information about the whole system, but no longer about the individual particles). Thanks to his models, Weinhart will soon be in a position to link up the information from both levels, and thereby be better placed to examine interactions between granular materials in greater depth. There are many areas where this knowledge is relevant, such as the pharmaceutical industry, the foodstuffs industry, and the energy sector, and for the purpose of predicting natural disasters. 


The Vidi grant programme is aimed at experienced researchers who have successfully conducted research for several years after gaining their PhD. Together with the Veni and Vici grants, Vidi forms part of the NWO innovation incentive scheme. Researchers in the innovation incentive scheme are free to submit their own subjects for consideration for funding. This way, NWO encourages innovative research that is driven by a desire to break new ground. NWO selects researchers on the basis of their quality, the innovative nature of their research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal, and the potential for using the knowledge. In this funding round, research proposals were submitted by 571 researchers. Only 86 of them were awarded a grant.

Joost Bruysters
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Wiebe van der Veen
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