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  Bamboo-Timber Composite Materials for Tall Buildings and Long Span Structures

   School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment

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  Dr J Zhang, Dr A Mohamed, Dr BD D'amico  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The UK and several other EU countries are the leading countries on developing advanced sustainable construction materials such as timber and engineered wood products. Some of the most advanced research developments on Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam) in recent years has led to the construction of tall timber buildings in Europe including the Mjøsa Tower, Norway (2018), the HoHo Wien, Austria (2018) and the Sapanta-Peri Church, Romania (2013) and many more are in the planning stage.

Glued Laminated Timber (glulam) is one of the most popular materials used in this type of construction. Timber glulam material is becoming increasingly more popular due to its excellent performance, sustainability and aesthetic characteristics. However, compared to traditional building materials such as concrete and steel, the strength of timber has prevented engineers to design and construct the long span and tall building structures. Therefore, combining glulam and other higher strength construction material presents itself as a sensible solution. Despite this argument, using timber-steel/concrete composites has gathered very few supporters due to the diminished appeal of the timber wooden appearance.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth; it is widely planted in many countries. Laminate bamboo glulam has also been widely used to manufacture furniture, flooring, worktops, etc. in Asia.

Laminate bamboo has: 1) impressive tensile and compressive strength (higher than mild steel) ; 2) similar thermal expansion coefficient to timber and, 3) an attractive wooden appearance which has made it a perfect material to produce timber-bamboo composite material and to form stronger structural elements to: 1) span a long distance; 2) reduce the size and self-weight of the structure and therefore results in a more efficient, economical yet aesthetic composite structure system.

Since 2015, the research team at Edinburgh Napier University has focused on developing the Bamboo and Softwood Timber composite materials. Several prototype products have been designed and manufactured. The test results have revealed the great potentials of these Bamboo-Timber composite materials. The combination of these two economical, fast-growing natural materials can achieved the same strength as hardwood glulam beam. They are excellent sustainable, environmental-friendly and architect-favoured construction materials for building tall and long-span structures.

The potential of this novel research has been recognized by the experts in the industry. The partnership established with the Intelligent Wood System Ltd and Glenalmond Timber Company in Scotland on developing the Bamboo-Timber composite material has won the Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship in 2019 ( deepens-university-industry-collaboration ).

This PhD will build on previous success, working closely with the existing Industrial partners to develop this patentable composite materials further with the consideration of structural modelling, optimisation, manufacturing and commercialisation of these new products.

Academic qualifications A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in civil engineering/mechanical engineering or material science or a cognate discipline with a good fundamental knowledge of mechanics of materials. English language requirement IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online. Essential attributes: · Experience of fundamental civil or mechanical engineering/material science · Competent in structural analysis and modelling, and/or coding · Knowledge of mechanics of materials · Good written and oral communication skills · Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project · Good time management Desirable attributes: - Knowledge of structural analysis and opitmisation - Knowledge of finite element analsysis - Knowledge of bio-based construction materials

Engineering (12) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

This vacancy is open to self-funded PhD student only


Gharavi, N., Zhang, H., Xie, Yanjun, and He, T., (2018). “End effect on determining shear modulus of timber beams in torsion tests”. Construction and Building Materials, 166:442-450, DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2017.12.191
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