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High temperature thermodynamics of Portland cement

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M N Campbell-Bannerman
    Dr P Kechagiopoulos
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Cement is the most ubiquitous product after drinking water, with 4.1B tons produced in 2017 alone, enough for half a ton per person per year worldwide. Its production also accounts for 5% of man-made CO2 emissions, thus any improvement to the production efficiency will have a meaningful change to our environmental impact. Critical to the production process are the calcination and the high-temperature (~1450℃) “clinkering” reaction. The former releases CO2 contained within the limestone used as raw ingredients for the cement, whereas the clinkering reaction requires significant amounts of fuel to reach the required temperature to form the “cementicious” phases.
Nanocem, a European consortium of cement manufacturers, recently funded Core Project 17 which commissioned the University of Aberdeen along with collaborators in Grenoble, Weimar, and Sheffield to investigate the thermodynamics of high-temperature clinkering reactions. By better understanding how the formation temperature of cementicious phases are influenced by the presence of minor components, new optimisations and variations to the production process might be found.

This PhD will continue our world-leading research in this field (see cited works). The approach will be a mixture of theoretical/computational modelling of the thermodynamics of the system, along with experimental validation and data gathering. The experimental work will be supported by a PhD studentship at the Laboratoire SIMaP in Grenoble, under the supervision of Dr Alexander Pisch. Both students will spend ~6 months in each institute working collaboratively to develop the tools and information to solve this global challenge, learning high-temperature synthesis techniques and thermodynamic modelling. In addition, both students will spend ~6 months at the University of Weimar to utilise the experience and facilities of Dr Christiane Rößler and Dr Frank Bellmann, applying cutting edge electron microscopy and NMR techniques to their synthesised clinker samples. Finally, the student from Aberdeen will also spend ~3-6 months at the University of Sheffield with Dr Theodore Hanein working on volatile phase characterization.

This project requires a highly motivated student with a background in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, or a related field. Experimental and computational techniques will be taught as part of this project but a background in process engineering, solid state chemistry, thermodynamics and/or lab experience is desirable.

Duration: 42 months starting September 2019

The successful candidate should have, or expect to obtain a UK Honours Degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, or a related field.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 1 June 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• CV
• 2 References (Academic, where possible - we will not be contacting referees)

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M Campbell-Bannerman ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

If a suitable candidate is identified, the studentship may be awarded before the closing date

The start date of the project will be 1 September 2019.

Funding Notes

Home Tuition Fees and stipend at Research Council rates for 2019/2020 this will be £15,0009, along with travel expenses for overseas visits.

International candidates can apply if they can meet the difference between UK/EU and International Tuition fees from their own resources, for the duration of study


T. Hanein, T. Y. Duvallet, R. B. Jewell, A. E. Oberlink, T. L. Robl, Y. Zhou, F. P. Glasser, and M. N. Bannerman, “Alite calcium sulfoaluminate cement: chemistry and thermodynamics,” Adv. Cem. Res., 31, (3), 94–105 (2019)

T. Hanein, J. L. Galvez-Martos, and M. N. Bannerman, “Carbon footprint of calcium sulfoaluminate clinker production,” J. Clean. Prod., 172, 2278–2287 (2018)

T. Hanein, I. Galan Garcia, A. Elhoweris, S. P. Khare, S. Skalamprinos, G. G. Jen, M. J. Whittaker, Imbabi MS.-E, F. P. Glasser, and M. N. Bannerman, “Production of Calcium SulfoAluminate cement using sulfur as a fuel and as a source of clinker sulfur trioxide: Pilot kiln trial,” Adv. Cem. Res., 28, 643-653 (2016)

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

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