Dr Tom Mills MEng, PhD

Dr Tom Mills

School of Chemical Engineering

Contact details

School of Chemical Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Tom Mills is a lecturer in the area of Food Manufacture and Performance, Chemical Engineering.  His primary research interests are firstly in the area of in-vitro methods to study the mouth, focusing on tribology as a method to look at thin film and lubrication behaviour.  Secondly, in addition to this he is currently leading projects around edible 3D printing technologies, saturated fat crystallisation and emulsifier performance, the production and behaviour of particle stabilised emulsion systems and particulate fluid gels. The aim of this research as a whole is to understand material property and behaviour from initial formulation through production and into breakdown and in-mouth experience. Projects focusing on individual areas and spanning these key environments are of interest for further study at doctoral level.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Birmingham, 2015
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, 2012
  • MEng (Hons) in Chemical Engineering University of Birmingham, 2007


Tom Mills qualified with an MEng(Hons) in chemical engineering from the University of Birmingham in 2007.  He went on to study for a PhD at the University of Birmingham with Dr Serafim Bakalis and Prof. Ian Norton on development of in-vitro mouth methods. He now works as a lecturer in the area of food manufacture and performance.


Teaching Programmes

  • Food Structure for Performance  (ATP/M Level module) (Module coordinator)
  • Mass, Heat and Momentum Transfer (Level I) (Module coordinator)
  • Computing for Design (Level I) (Module coordinator)
  • Design Project (Level H)
  • Research Project (Level M)

Postgraduate supervision


  • Supercritical drying of food products (EPSRC)
  • Drying and rehydration of emulsion systems (EPSRC)
  • 3D Printing of edible materials (EPSRC)
  • Fluid gel emulsion systems (Industry Funded)
  • Understanding the key drivers of crispness attributes (Industry Funded, EngD)
  • Rheological design of biopolymer composites for application in 3D jet based printing (EPSRC)
  • Glassy state control of food biopolymer fibres for extrusion printing (EPSRC)


Research Themes


Microstructure design and novel processing routes to food emulsion systems

Hydrocolloid/Fluid gels

Functional hydrocolloids and gel particulate systems to provide novel microstructures and performance in-vivo


Friction and lubrication measurements related to oral processing and tongue palate interactions

In-Vitro Mouth Methods

Development of methods to relate to oral processing phenomena 

3D Printing 

Material and production technologies for edible 3D printing  


Cassanelli, M., I. Norton, and T. Mills, Role of gellan gum microstructure in freeze drying and rehydration mechanisms. Food Hydrocolloids, 2018. 75: p. 51-61.

Ellis, A., et al., Stabilisation of foams by agar gel particles. Food Hydrocolloids, 2017. 73: p. 222-228.

Cassanelli, M., I. Norton, and T. Mills, Effect of alcohols on gellan gum gel structure: Bridging the molecular level and the three-dimensional network. Food Structure, 2017. 14: p. 112-120.

Nayak, P., T. Mills, and I. Norton, Lipid based nanosystems for curcumin: Past, present and future. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2016. 22(27): p. 4247-4256.

Mahdi, M.H., et al., Gellan gum fluid gels for topical administration of diclofenac. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2016. 515(1): p. 535-542.

Asghari, A.K., et al., Interfacial and foaming characterisation of mixed protein-starch particle systems for food-foam applications. Food Hydrocolloids, 2016. 53: p. 311-319.

Batchelor, H., et al., The application of tribology in assessing texture perception of oral liquid medicines. International journal of pharmaceutics, 2015. 479(2): p. 277-281.

Munz, M. and T. Mills, Size Dependence of Shape and Stiffness of Single Sessile Oil Nanodroplets As Measured by Atomic Force Microscopy. Langmuir, 2014. 30(15): p. 4243-4252.

Mills, T., I.T. Norton, and S. Bakalis, Development of tribology equipment to study dynamic processes. Journal of Food Engineering, 2013. 114(3): p. 384-390.

Mills, T. and I. Norton, Salt Reduction in Food. Formulation Engineering of Foods, 2013: p. 163-173.

Mills, T. and I. Norton, Tribology measurement and analysis: applications to food micro structures. Food microstructures: microscopy, measurement and modelling. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing, 2013: p. 292-307.

Mills, T., A. Koay, and I.T. Norton, Fluid gel lubrication as a function of solvent quality. Food Hydrocolloids, 2013. 32(1): p. 172-177.

Spyropoulos, F., et al., Protein‐Stabilised Emulsions and Rheological Aspects of Structure and Mouthfeel. Practical Food Rheology: An Interpretive Approach, 2011: p. 193-218.

Mills, T., et al., Development of an in-vitro mouth model to quantify salt release from gels. Food Hydrocolloids, 2011. 25(1): p. 107-113.