Outline of Scientific and Engineering Career
Cambridge, MIT and ICI
With a starred first class honours degree in Engineering from Cambridge, the Sir George Nelson prize for Applied Mechanics, and a Ph.D on Control Engineering (from Trinity College, Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA), Stephen Bush joined Imperial Chemical Industries, where he became successively Technical Officer, Section Manager and Process Technology Group Manager in the ICI Corporate Laboratory at Bozedown House in Oxfordshire. Following this, he took up the post of Systems Technology manager for ICI (Europa) Ltd at Rozenburg in Holland and Everberg in Belgium, where he was responsible for process development projects at manufacturing sites in Holland, Germany, France and Northern Ireland, particularly on polyester and nylon textile fibres, polyethylene for pipes, cables and mouldings, and polyurethane for foams and coatings.
The pioneering work at Bozedown House on the measurement and computation of oscillatory chemical reactions and the complex kinetics of free radical reactions underpinned the chlorination of hydrocarbons for solvents and the cracking of naphthas for ethylene and propylene, on the largest industrial scales. This advance was embodied in the Variable Structure Model (VSM) software in Kinpack© (with I B Parker and P Dyer). In the 1990s applications were developed to the combustion of diesel and octane fuels, with a view to minimising particulate soot emissions (with X Chen), and for investigating new catalysts for the low pressure ammonia process (K C Waugh).
The Fossett-Bush jet mixing equation (1968) has found application not only to mixing in chemical reactors, but subsequently to mixing and dispersion on the even larger scale of reservoirs and harbours (1977-85). This work led to the award of the senior Moulton Medal of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The fundamental concept in jet mixing of using passive rather than moving mechanical elements to shape flow fields was used in the later work (1980s and 90s) to self-organise the fibre reinforcement of polymers (see below).
Among the Systems Technology projects in ICI Europa the twin requirements to improve the efficiency and quality of textured polyester fibres posed the central challenge of relating observable outcomes to the molecular changes induced by mechanical equipment on thousands of parallel threadlines in several different factories. Tracking the material pathways followed by around one million bar-coded packages per year led to the Process Analysis and Monitoring System software PAMS© (with C G A Clayton, S Baillie Strong and M Saive). This embodies the concept of “Diagnostic Control” later applied to other multi-stream processes where reliably locating the source of quality faults in near real time is of paramount importance.
UMIST and Manchester
In 1979 Stephen Bush moved to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) now Manchester University as the first Professor of Polymer Engineering and Head of Polymer Engineering Division. Later he served two periods as Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, after which he set up the University Centre of Manufacture (UCM) and became its Head of Department. In 1980 he was awarded the Sir George Beilby Medal and Prize, a joint award by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Materials, Metals and Mining and the Society of Chemical Industry: “in recognition of original work of exceptional merit carried out continuously over a period of years” in the field of chemical and polymer manufacture.
The Bush self-organising fibres equation (1987-88) arising from this work defines the flow fields under which discrete fibres arrange themselves into lace-like structures to create a composite within a polymer melt or resin, rather than having to weave the reinforcement in a separate operation. In the period 1989-2003 this fundamental innovation was translated into the patented thermoplastic composite technologies SAFIRE (Self Assembling Fibre Reinforcement), Granex©, and Smartform© (with D R Blackburn). The thermoset resin technology VISCOR© (Viscosity and Shrink Controlled Resin (with J M Methven) was likewise patented and commercialised (1985-97).