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This paper investigates the first part of a two-stage methodology for the detailed fully coupled modelling of nanoparticle formation in turbulent reacting flows. We use a projected fields (PF) method to approximate the joint composition probability density function (PDF) transport equation that describes the evolution of the nanoparticles. The method combines detailed chemistry and the method of moments with interpolative closure (MoMIC) population balance model in a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code. We show details of the implementation and present an extensive set of numerical experiments and validation. We consider the example of the chloride process for the industrial synthesis of titania. We show good agreement with experimental data and present fully coupled detailed chemistry CFD simulations of nanoparticle formation in a representative ‘slot’ reactor geometry. The simulations show that inception occurs in a mixing zone near the reactor inlets. Most of the nanoparticle mass is due to surface growth downstream of the mixing zone with a narrower size distribution occurring in the regions of higher surface growth. The predicted temperature and particle properties are compared to a perfect mixing case. The implications for the second part of the methodology, where it is proposed to post-process the data using a more detailed particle model, are discussed critically.