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The themes addressed in the institute are rich and varied, but are found in both common approaches and common fields of application.

The scientific issues addressed are centred on the study of continuous, fluid or solid media, addressing questions of deformation or flow behaviour, transfer problems and coupling with chemical reactions. The systems studied are therefore intrinsically complex, as they are non-linear, multi-physical and multi-scale. The present themes are part of the engineering and environmental sciences and share the fields of application of their research.

Research fields covered

They concern Mechanics and Energetics, applied to a wide class of systems, from the most usual to the most innovative. The main disciplines concerned are thus within the scope of :

  • Fluid mechanics: Fluid mechanics has a long tradition in Marseille. Long motivated by the properties of turbulent flows, it has evolved under the impetus of several fertile schools of thought stemming from non-linear physics, applied mathematics or soft matter physics. The questions related to turbulence and instabilities remain very active and have opened up towards systems involving complex couplings (stratification, rotation, electromagnetic effects). Multiphase problems in general and those related to surface and interface effects have taken on considerable scope (fragmentation, bubbles, drops, wetting, waves). High-speed flows remain an active subject thanks in particular to the presence on site of large instruments (supersonic wind tunnel, shock tubes). Complex fluid flows (blood, suspensions, granular media, vesicles, etc.) have developed significantly. Fluid dynamics has also been widely opened up to the life sciences with many biomechanical issues. Finally, it should be noted that computational fluid mechanics is very present in laboratories, as an essential investigation tool, but also as a research subject with the development of methods and schemes. All this research is mainly carried out in the three laboratories IRPHE, M2P2 and IUSTI.


  • Mechanics of solids: The studies in solid mechanics are distributed around 4 main themes located mainly at the LMA but also at the IRPHE: problems of scale change and micromechanics (micro-macro passage, homogenization methods for composites, solid fragmentation), problems of contact interface and friction (friction, seizure, adhesion, ...), multiphysical couplings (thermo-chemo-mechanics on elastomers), study of structures (deployable structures, instabilities and nonlinear effects).


  • Energy and transfers: Energy in the broadest sense is a subject in full renewal in connection with societal issues related to energy and the environment. Historically well anchored in the Marseille laboratories around thermal and combustion, the various themes have expanded to include questions on phase changes (boiling, drying, crystal growth), intensification of transfers (in porous media, problems of instability or questions of characterization of material properties). Combustion is still present with the study of flame front instabilities, the problem of fires (forest fires, compartmentalized fires), the development of multiphase combustion codes.


  • Acoustics: Acoustics is a field of study traditionally established within the LMA. Recent work in the field can be divided into two classes: acoustics in living beings, which concerns hearing problems (cochlear implant), noise characterization and control, the study and design of musical instruments; and acoustics as a means of investigation for engineering purposes. Wave propagation in complex environments, imaging of geological structures, non-destructive testing, medical imaging are some examples of developments in acoustics.


  • Process engineering: Process engineering, which deals with the study, design and optimization of physico-chemical and biological transformations of matter and energy, is increasingly moving towards environmental issues. Within the M2P2 laboratory, processes based on supercritical fluids, which represent an alternative to the use of organic solvents, membrane processes in particular for the purification of compounds with high added value (design, characterization), and water treatment processes (biological processes, bioreactors, thermal processes) are studied.


Wide range of applications

The various scientific issues outlined above are addressed mainly in close connection with applications in the following three fields:

  • Industrial processes : The field of transport, be it air (aeronautics, aerospace, helicopters), land (automobile, railways) or marine, raises problems of materials, fluid mechanics and acoustics in connection with the studies carried out in our laboratories. The field of energy in the broadest sense is a field of application that is motivating a great deal of research into combustion, energy efficiency and heat exchangers, and alternative energies such as wind turbines and biofuels. The field of housing can be found in many of the researches undertaken through questions on materials, structures, thermal or acoustic insulation of buildings, flows and transfer at the scale of cities. Process engineering is in essence directly linked to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry for problems of extraction and particle generation.


  • Natural Environments : The second major field of application of the research carried out in our laboratories concerns natural environments, the environment and the universe. First of all, the marine environment is at the heart of studies on waves, sediment transport and coastal engineering studies. Environmental problems and natural hazards are addressed by studies on large-scale pollutant flows, work on water treatment, forest fire modelling, analysis of granular flows encountered in landslides and avalanches. On a larger scale, the planets and the earth in particular motivate work in seismology, fluid mechanics applied to internal geophysics or the atmosphere.


  • Living Environments : The last major field of application of our work concerns the study of living environments. Some of the Institute's research activities carried out in fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, energy mechanics, acoustics and process engineering contribute to a better characterization/understanding of the functioning mechanisms of biological systems. This field of application is characterized by its strongly interdisciplinary character around subjects at the interface between engineering and life sciences. The multi-physical models that are developed can be theoretical, in silico, in vitro, or in vivo. The spatial scales vary from cell to organ to tissue; the temporal scales of the cellular response to the development of pathologies. Different systems are studied in the institute's laboratories: cardiovascular, respiratory, bone, auditory, vocal, dental,...but also animal and plant. The objectives are related to biomedical applications (diagnosis, therapy, medical devices, ...), but also biomimetics (robots, active pump, plant biopolymers, ...).

Contact information
Fluid Mechanics, Solid Mechanics
Acoustics, Biomechanics, Energy
Geophysics, Interfaces, Materials
Processes, Complex Systems
Industrial processes, natural environments, living environments IMI
IMI Themes