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Learning from historical cement sample stores


   Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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  Prof John Provis  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Cements@Sheffield group in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Sheffield, is recruiting a PhD student to join us for a project funded by the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. We are one of the world’s leading cement research groups, with a focus on training and supporting excellent people, and developing and delivering exciting scientific outcomes in sustainable, high-performing cements.

The UK’s nuclear sector has conducted world-leading systematic studies of cementitious grout formulation, performance, and engineering characteristics, over the past 40 years. This historical work has put the UK in the unique position of holding a large stockpile of cement samples of well-documented provenance, which are now reaching ages of 20-40 years.

The purpose of this project is to tap into this wealth of specimens to understand the evolution of cement microstructure, chemical structure, and engineering characteristics over a period of decades. These cement-based grouts have been used to immobilise the UK’s intermediate-level nuclear wastes, and must serve as designed for centuries and more. Also, the concretes that are used in construction of durable infrastructure, including many structures in the nuclear industry, must serve for over 100 years. However, very few detailed studies describe the characteristics of cementitious materials at later age, and almost none of these include information for cements blended with high volumes of supplementary cementitious materials (BFS and/or PFA) as is the case for the samples of interest here.

This project will therefore be a valuable technical contribution to the UK’s nuclear sector in making the safety case for stability and durability of cemented wasteforms, and the longer-term durability of the sector’s concrete infrastructure, while also contributing important new and detailed scientific insight into important classes of cements that are used in construction and other key applications worldwide.

The project will suit a student with a keen interest in conducting detailed and precise experimental characterisation of unique samples of historical value. A good Bachelors/Masters degree in materials science or a related discipline (including in particular mineralogy, civil engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, or similar fields).

This position will remain open until filled.

For further information or informal enquiries, please contact Prof. John Provis, [Email Address Removed]


Funding Notes

The project is funded for a UK Home-qualified student, with a minimum stipend of £18,000 p.a. (UKRI stipend + £3000 p.a. top-up), and Home tuition fees, for a duration of 3.5 years.
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