Professor Malkus' primary research area is planar flows of viscoelastic liquids. He and his co-workers have proposed a new theory for a whole syndrome of process-disrupting instabilities whose fundamental mechanism is a change of state in the polymer system in regions of high shear-rate (usually near walls), rather than the usually invoked explanation of a stick-slip instability (due to adhesion failure at the walls). The ultimate goal is to develop fully transient planar flow algorithms capable of capturing the kinds of instabilities observed in shear flows.
The practical application of the research will be to allow polymer processing operations to proceed at a higher rate without incurring process instabilities that degrade the optical and mechanical properties of the product. It is hoped that Malkus' modeling will predict the combination of material properties, flow geometries and processing rates that will result in stable processes without the need for constructing costly trial processes. This work is being carried out as an interdisciplinary project with Michigan Technological University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The team includes chemical engineers, polymer chemists and mechanicians.