PhD Studentship: Novel Low Carbon Concrete for Fire Resistance Applications

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter and the University of Queensland are seeking exceptional students to join a world-leading, cross-continental research team tackling major challenges facing the world’s population in global sustainability and wellbeing as part of the QUEX Institute. The joint PhD programme provides a fantastic opportunity for the most talented doctoral students to work closely with world-class research groups and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions, with a lead supervisor within each university. This prestigious programme provides full tuition fees, stipend, travel funds and research training support grants to the successful applicants.

Ten generous, fully-funded studentships are available for the best applicants, 5 offered by the University of Exeter and 5 by the University of Queensland. This select group will spend at least one year at each University and will graduate with a joint degree from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland.Find

out more about the PhD studentships

Successful applicants will have a strong academic background and track record to undertake research projects based in one of the three themes of:  Physical Activity and Nutrition; Healthy Ageing; and Environmental Sustainability.


Exeter Academic Lead:  Dr Raffaele Vinai

Queensland Academic Lead:  Dr Vinh Dao

Project Description

The environmental sustainability of buildings depends on a range of parameters, with the main two drivers being the use pattern of the structures (in terms of energy demands) and the embodied energy (and related emissions) of the materials used for construction.

Concrete is the second most used substance in the world, possessing many key highly desirable properties such as local availability, easiness to cast in different shapes and high mechanical strength. The vast majority of concrete is manufactured using Portland cement (PC), whose production in 2017 has been estimated at 4.1 billion tonnes worldwide. However, production of PC has negative impacts in terms of CO2 emissions (about 8% of the total CO2 emissions is directly related to PC production). About 0.8 – 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted per each tonne of PC produced. Alkali Activated Cements (AAC) are a class of materials produced by the reaction of a raw aluminosilicate material (precursor) with an alkali activator. These materials have the potential of significantly reducing the CO2 emissions of the building sector - Recent research developments have clearly demonstrated the possibility of sourcing a vast majority of ingredients for AAC production directly from waste/by-products, thus hugely reducing the CO2 footprint of concrete. Due to their intrinsic material structure, AAC are superior to PC in applications where fire resistance is required.

The project will investigate the development of low carbon concrete for fire resistance applications. The use of AAC in Civil Engineering has been hindered by the cost of materials (mainly attributed to activators), lack of knowledge on performance, lack of standards for their use.

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South West England