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NSFC initiates the major research plan on meso-science

On June 5, 2012, NSFC launched a major research plan on meso-science entitled: Mechanism and manipulation of meso-scales in multi-phase reaction processes. Multi-scale behavior is the common characteristics of multi-phase reaction processes, which are most widely encountered in a variety of industries related to material and energy transformation and utilization. From molecules to global environment, different scales can be classified into three levels in general. The system on the lowest (material) level serves as the element of the middle (process) level, while the system on the middle level serves as the element of the upper (environment) level. Meso-scales refer to the intermediate scales in between the element and system scales on the same level. For this program, researches will focus on the meso-scale (Meso-scale 1) of interfacial phenomena in between the scales of molecules and particles (including droplets and bubbles) on the material level, and the meso-scale (Meso-scale 2) of particle clustering phenomena in between the scales of particles and reactors on the process level.

Over the years, these meso-scales are not well understood and quantified, which has proven to be the bottlenecks for many technology development in the related industries. Under the sponsorship of NSFC, Chinese scholars started meso-scale research on multi-phase system thirty years ago and have enjoyed a continuous development. The common principle of compromise in competition between dominant mechanisms for the two meso-scales defined above was identified in this research, which justifies the name of meso-science as a unified frontier of trans-disciplinary areas. Based on many rounds of nation-wide discussions in recent years, priority themes and scientific problems in this interdisciplinary area are identified as follows: the compromise between reaction and mass-transfer at Meso-scale 1, the relationship between mass-transfer and hydrodynamics at Meso-scale 2 and the coupling between reaction, mass-transfer and hydrodynamics at the particle scale. These discussions finally lead to the initiation of this strategic research program with a duration of  8 years and the total funding of  200 million Yuan RMB. In order to fully implement this major research plan, a scientific steering committee with nine members from different disciplines, headed by Professor Jinghai Li, was set up.

Department of chemical sciences

September 13, 2012

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