Atul Sharma

Dr Atul Sharma BE, ME, PhD

Consultant Engineer

Dr Atul Sharma joined The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology in April 2022. He is currently working as a Consultant Engineer and received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, Master's degree in CAD/CAM Engineering, and PhD in the area of Bulk Solids Handling from India.

Prior to joining The Wolfson Centre, he worked as an Assistant Professor at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, India. Atul has over 13 years of teaching experience in higher education. For the last 9 years, he has been doing research and engineering consultancy, specialising in pneumatic conveying of bulk solids. He has worked on various research and consulting projects for National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, Department of Science & Technology, Reliance Power, Tata Power, Aditya Birla Group, BGR Energy, Airlock India Private Limited, KC Cottrell India Private Limited, Odisha Power Generation Corporation Limited, and Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited.

He played a key role in developing the experimental facilities at the Laboratory for Particle and Bulk Solids Technologies (Thapar Institute) - the largest bulk solids handling facility among Indian Universities. He has supervised 7 Master's thesis and has published 4 international journal papers in the area of powder technology. He co-organised two international conferences (PGBSIA, 2016 and 2020) and several industrial short courses.

Atul was the co-founder of BulkSolids Innovation India Pvt. Ltd., a technology-based spinout company, and held the post of director from December 2019 to March 2022.

Responsibilities within the university

Research, Consultancy, and Teaching

Research / Scholarly interests

Atul's research strives to continually improve the pneumatic conveying models and scale-up procedures for various products and industries. The design of a pneumatic conveying system has many complexities that arise from the different properties of the bulk solids, considerable variation in the conveying conditions, and different tonnage requirements. Poorly designed systems can lead to several operational problems that reduce throughput and reliability, leading to high operating and/or maintenance costs, and poor product quality. Designing a reliable pneumatic conveying system includes determining the minimum transport boundary and total pipeline pressure drop as key parameters. Atul's research focuses on achieving a reliable pneumatic system design through the following areas:

  • Modelling pressure drop in straight pipes for dilute and dense phase pneumatic conveying.
  • Prediction of minimum transport criteria.
  • Development of reliable bend pressure drop models.

Key funded projects

On developing Reliable Scale-up Procedures and Design Optimisation for Pneumatic Fly Ash Conveying Systems for 500/800/1000 MW Units, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), 2018-2020, India.

Existing coal fired power stations face challenges of reliably handling large amount of fly ash every day in dry mode that would enable savings of water, reduction in environment pollution (caused by fly ash) and enhance the reuse potential of fly ash. Unfortunately, the pneumatic ash conveying systems installed in several plants suffer from ill- or under-design, as a result of which many of the installed pneumatic conveying systems are unable to transport fly ash satisfactorily. To find a solution for such a long standing problem, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology carried out a joint research project to develop a 'Design Guide' which would enable NTPC to correctly select the sizes of critical components, such as air movers, feeders and pipelines, thus contributing to reliable plant design, effective troubleshooting and smooth operation of dry fly ash handling systems. Following were the major milestones achieved during the project:

  • Development of large scale pneumatic pressure and vacuum conveying pilot plants;
  • Pressure and vacuum conveying of several samples of fly ash (ESP ash and APH ash);
  • Modelling of solids friction (for pressure drop estimation), assessing conveyability and minimum transport boundary;
  • Validation of pilot plant findings at a 500 MW unit of NTPC (NTPC Mauda, Stage II plant);
  • Development of Design Guide: scale-up design for compressor and vacuum pump selection (pressure drop and air flow), pipeline diameter selection, identifying step-up location, blow tank sizing etc.

Recent publications

  • Sharma, A. and Mallick, S.S., 2021. An investigation into pressure drop through bends in pneumatic conveying systems. Particulate Science and Technology, 39(2), pp.180-191.
  • Sharma, A. and Mallick, S.S., 2019. Modelling pressure drop in bends for pneumatic conveying of fine powders. Powder Technology, 356, pp.273-283.
  • Goel, A., Mittal, A., Mallick, S.S. and Sharma, A., 2016. Experimental investigation into transient pressure pulses during pneumatic conveying of fine powders using Shannon entropy. Particuology, 29, pp.143-153.
  • Tripathi, N., Sharma, A., Mallick, S.S. and Wypych, P.W., 2015. Energy loss at bends in the pneumatic conveying of fly ash. Particuology, 21, pp.65-73.