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PhD Studentship - Decarbonising Concrete Construction through Innovations in Waste Material Recycling and CO2 Sequestration

The University of Edinburgh

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Edinburgh
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2023
Closes: 4th January 2024

Principal Supervisor: Dr. Hwa Kian Chai

Assistant Supervisor: Prof. Ondrej Masek, Dr. Efthalia Chatzisymeon

This E4 Doctoral Training Partnership funded project tackles challenges in experimental and theoretical development of low carbon concrete technology via innovations that augment the use of industry wastes as cement replacement and with emphasis on the use of biochar to realise carbon capture and storage capability.

Concrete is the most widely used man-made materials in existence. Its production mostly rely on heavy exploitation of natural resources including limestone, granite and water. The production of its key ingredient - cement is energy intensive, which accounts for 8% of global CO2 emission, besides being identified as the root of various other social and environment problems. This project will explore effective ways of utilising low carbon alternatives as binder for concrete to help alleviate cement production and usage to contribute to achievement of net-zero built environment. Key highlights include synthesis of cementitious binder capitalising on suitable combinations waste materials to meet workability, strength and durability requirements, at the same time enabling significant reduction of carbon footprint in the production through mitigating the use of virgin materials and achieving active/ passive carbon storage. Success of this project shall rely on robust and coherent laboratory investigations, theoretical studies and if necessary numerical modelling to assess and quantify the performance criteria of cementitious mixtures in regard to variations in material proportions, mixing and casting method, and curing. Materials that are of interest for the development include (not limited to) biochar derived from different sources, pulverised fuel ash, slag and bottom ash. Flexibility will be allowed in determining the choice of materials and testing approach to better suit candidate’s interest, experience and motivation.

Key research questions

  • Can we produce cement with locally sourced waste materials?
  • How do we effective reduce the carbon footprint of concrete construction, from the material preparation and utilisation perspective?
  • Can we achieve carbon storage in concrete structures without sacrificing their strength and serviceable term?
  • How do we develop a rational mixture design and preparation procedure that ensure requirements for construction are met?
  • Will the development effectively help address realisation of disruptive carbon neutral/ negative technology for concrete industry?

Candidate should have a solid background in civil and structural engineering with some knowledge in cementitious material science. Ideally, candidate would have already developed some prior skills and experience in material characterisation, mortar/ concrete mixture design, preparation and testing. Basic knowledge of carbon accounting and life-cycle cost analysis will also be desirable.

During the project term, candidate will receive specific training on cementitious material chemical analysis and petrography, carbon accounting and life-cycle cost analysis, mechanical and structural testing of mortar/ concrete in laboratory.

Further Information:

Link to the project details and application:

www.eng.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/research/phd/decarbonising-concrete-construction-through-innovations-waste

Information regarding E4 DTP programme: www.ed.ac.uk/e4-dtp

Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU/International students

Eligibility

All adverts will list our standard entry requirements:

Give any specific entry requirements or restrictions below (e.g. “an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering…”)

An undergraduate degree in:

Minimum entry qualification - an undergraduate Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in Civil and Environmental Engineering with strong exposure to structural engineering and/ or inorganic chemistry. Qualifications can possibly be supported by an MSc Degree.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/applying/your-application/entry-requirements

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