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Designing Cements for Martian and Lunar Construction

   Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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  Dr Theodore Hanein  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Human settlements on celestial bodies such as the Earth’s moon and Mars were imagined as early as the 17th century and have recently received increased attention because of NASA’s Artemis mission and “Journey to Mars” plan, as well as SpaceX’s Mars program. The proposed project involves developing a toolkit of cement-based materials for extra-terrestrial construction through local/in-situ raw material utilisation, which will be a major step toward Earth-independent human settlement on extra-terrestrial bodies.

The 3.5-year PhD project can be divided into four major parts – 1) understanding the variability of Lunar and Martian regolith based on NASA’s database, 2) performing thermodynamical simulations of the various combinations of different raw materials combinations available in the Martian or Lunar environment to evaluate potential cement chemical and mineralogical compositions, 3) synthesizing and characterising cement with the target chemical and mineralogical compositions (obtained in the second part) using Martian and Lunar simulant materials, and 4) evaluating hydration and strength gain of the synthesised cement. During the PhD, the student is expected to gain significant expertise in high-temperature thermodynamics, data analysis, cement/clinker chemistry, and characterisation techniques.

We are looking to recruit a graduate with a first or high 2.1 class honours degree with a background in civil engineering, materials science, chemical engineering, chemistry, or a related discipline. Familiarity with programming, thermodynamics and relevant materials testing and characterisation techniques such as SEM, XRD, calorimetry, and thermal analyses is desirable but not essential.

The PhD student will join a dynamic team of researchers at the Centre for Experimental Thermodynamics UK (CETUK) and Cements@Sheffield group based in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at TUoS. CETUK is the only research centre in the world with a focus on the thermodynamics of cement, putting us in a unique position to execute this research project.  MSE at TUoS is a globally leading research centre in the innovation and development of materials to resolve global challenges. We are an equal opportunity organisation and value diversity at our university; we understand that diversity in all its forms delivers greater research impact.

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