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Digital Design and Fabrication of Low Carbon Flexibly Formed Concrete Structures Reinforced With Natural Fibres

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Spadea
    Dr T Dyer
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The aim of this project is to improve whole-life productivity and sustainability of the construction industry by defining new methods for the design and fabrication of durable concrete structures using naturally sourced fibrous materials.
The project will address some of the following research challenges:
To explore the sustainable use of natural fibres as both reinforcement and shape-forming material in reinforced concrete structures;
Develop a sustainable concrete mix suitable for natural fibres to enhance durability and bonding properties;
To accurately analyse the structural response of geometrically complex concrete structures featuring woven fibrous reinforcement;
To combine novel analysis methods with optimisation routines allowing external geometry and internal reinforcement arrangements to be generated which meet performance requirements with minimum total embodied energy;
To establish feasible construction solutions which are suitable for automation;
To implement automation techniques into a fabrication prototype to drive acceptance in industry and enhance sector-wide productivity;
To enhance the durability and resilience of infrastructure using novel sustainable materials.
This PhD project is aligned with the funded projects currently carried out by Dr. Saverio Spadea (primary supervisor) and focusing on the following topics:
• Concrete construction automation and decarbonisation;
• Advanced design and manufacturing of innovative structural materials;
• Sustainable use of naturally sourced material in construction;
• Affordable, energy efficient and healthy housing for underdeveloped countries.

The PhD candidate will be able contribute to (and benefit from) the success of active grants involving other academic institutions and industry partners. As a result, the student will beneficially be exposed to a diverse research environment.
Dr. Thomas Dyer will act as second supervisor, contributing to the project with his relevant expertise on material science and cement chemistry.
The successful candidate will have good background in structural mechanics, understanding of construction materials, and a keen interest in digital technologies. Aptitude for experimental testing would be an advantage, as would a working knowledge of numerical methods.
The awarded student will work in a culturally fervent and stimulating academic environment. Over the past 16 years, Civil Engineering research at Dundee has maintained its ranking as 1st in Scotland and top 10 in the UK. A major contributor to this success has been the Concrete Technology and Structural Engineering Cluster, which conduct internationally recognised research in the thematic areas of energy, global uncertainties and living with environment.

Extensive lab facilities and expertise relevant to the success of the project are available at the UoD. The recently upgraded structures laboratory features a fully equipped 15m x 8.5m x 1m strengthened floor which will be used for full scale structural testing. The SMART Lab has capabilities to perform a wide range of analysis and investigations on materials microstructure, using state-of-the-art imaging techniques. The school laboratories also include facilities for manufacturing and rapid prototyping as well as expertise in digital modelling and automated control, which are fundamental for the success of the project.

Interested applicant should send a CV and cover letter to Dr Spadea through email, these will be reviewed as soon as they are received by Dr Spadea.

Funding Notes

This is a 36 month fully funded PhD position covering tuition fees and an annual stipend set at UKRI rates (2020/21 Stipend: £15,285). The candidate must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education, further guidance can be found on the EPSRC website). Applicants from EU countries other than the UK who do not comply with the residency criteria are only eligible for a fees-only PhD studentship award.

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