Assessment and development of waste plastic building blocks


   School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

  Dr Muhammad Ali  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part time PhD project. 

The PhD will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying and will be supervised by Dr Muhammad Ali.

The work on this project will:

  • Investigate techniques for converting and utilisation of mixed plastic waste into various building materials.
  • Develop a clear understanding of material compositions and their performance.
  • Formulate plastic waste conversion methods that are sustainable and safe for the environment.
  • Produce recycled construction building blocks, bricks and tiles etc.  

Project description

It is known that millions of tonnes of new plastic products are produced worldwide. While some plastics are recycled, a major portion, an estimated 90% is disposed-off. A large proportion of plastic waste ends up in landfills or is simply left untreated on land which significantly contributes to the environmental catastrophe of modern times. Plastic waste is constantly building up at an alarming rate and are can be found in places one could have not imaged a decade ago. Plastic waste has been identified in the highest mountainous areas and found in large quantities floating in the ocean.

This research project is aimed at developing a sustainable system to utilise waste plastic in building construction. This will involve developing various plastic waste formulas for conversing into compressed recycled plastic blocks, bricks, tiles etc. One of the key challenges would be to devise conversion techniques that require minimum energy input with a significant reduction in carbon emissions. It is anticipated that products such as re-constituted recycled plastic bricks and blocks will be manufactured using steam, compression and natural binding materials with the idea to reduce the overall carbon footprint when compared with traditional building materials such are kiln-fired bricks or cement-concrete blocks.

The project will examine various characteristics of plastics using state-of-the-art equipment such as FTIR, Raman, and scanning electron spectroscopy to develop a material matrix that is suitable for the production of building blocks from waste plastics. It is expected that this project will develop a test rig for the production of compressed plastic brick/blocks. To ensure the quality and performance the compressed recycled plastic bricks/blocks will be subjected to various physical, chemical and mechanical testing. 

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

Background in the waste management, and/or environmental studies is desirable.  

How to Apply

We encourage you to contact Dr Muhammad Ali () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Civil Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: SCES6051023.


Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK students only).

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