Light-weight High Performance Concrete for Floating Structures (FAC23/EE/MCE/BRABHA)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Brabha Nagaratnam  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This is an exciting project, addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change and the need for sustainable infrastructure, developing light-weight high performance concrete (LWHPC) for modular floating structure through laboratory testing and lots of modelling. Working alongside 20 researchers worldwide and traveling to various laboratories is an exciting and dynamic opportunity for the successful candidate.

The demands for LWHPC for for modular floating structures is increasing, as the high strength and durability characteristics, as well as lighter weight, ensures reduction in mass which offers an increase in buoyancy of the structure, costs, and transportation efficiency. However, this form of marine structures is exposed to harsh environment that have severe implications on durability, leading to reduced service life. It is also subjected to chlorides and sulphates, high hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures, tidal action including repeated wetting and drying, and the growth of marine organisms, making it difficult to achieve the designed service life. Although LWHPC might seem ideal for this type of application, it poses distinctive qualities to employ in actual practise because of its sensitivity to its material constituents and lack of solid mix design guidelines.

The fundamental aim of this proposal is to develop an innovative LWHPC for floating modular structures with reduced density while achieving high strength and durability characteristics. Various additives will be investigated as constituents for the LWHPC mix. In addition, its rheological, mechanical and durability properties will be investigated through laboratory tests and theoretical analysis models. Following on, finite element software such as Abaqus shall be used to develop numerical model under various actions under self-weight, live load and hydrostatic pressure. Using the validated numerical model, different design parameters such as the shape and size of the floating module, the reinforcement detailing, the wall and slab thicknesses, void ratios etc shall be investigated to explore its feasibility and design optimization in terms of floatability, flexural stress distributions and self-weight.

The findings and insights of this project can contribute to the development of resilient solutions that benefit coastal communities and the environment.

The potential applicant should have a Masters degree or Bachelors with Honours degree in Civil Engineering, Materials Engineering, or closely related field with a strong demonstrated interest/experience in concrete technology and construction materials development.

This project is supervised by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Brabha Nagaratnam. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed]. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and application form, see

For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. FAC23/...).

Deadline for applications: 4 January 2024

Start date of course: As soon as possible, on the 1st of a month.

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our postgraduate research students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Leader, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers and are members of the Euraxess initiative to deliver information and support to professional researchers.

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

This studentship is available to Home and International students, and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2023/24 full-time study this is £18,622 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £11,173 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.

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