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Modern use of gypsum as inorganic binder for constructions (Advert Reference: SF18/ABE/PESCE)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr G Pesce  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Gypsum-based mortars for outdoor coating were widely used in the past centuries in a number of European countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. Research on these materials already highlighted that, although gypsum based coatings for outdoor use are generally thought to best suit regions with a dry climates such as the southern European countries, there is historic and archaeological evidence that these mortars were successful used in more wet environments such as the UK and the Monmartre region of Paris (France) were gypsum was used as a construction material since the Middle Age. However, with the introduction of Portland cement in the 19th century, the use of gypsum in construction dramatically reduced, and the related knowledge went lost. Cement is a great construction material but has a large carbon footprint and our society faces the need to reduce its carbon footprint. For this reason alternative binders are now considered viable alternatives to cement for specific applications.

Unfortunately, despite this interest and the long history, because of the limited use and knowledge currently available and the empirical nature of it, there is still a lack of fundamental understanding for some of the physical, mechanical and chemical characteristics of gypsum when is used in external plasters.

This project aims to advance our scientific knowledge of gypsum in construction, by exploring some aspects of its production and use that are not yet fully understood. The research will be based on a review of the literature available and on experimental work with the aim to develop new gypsum-based products to be used in the construction of new buildings.

Please note eligibility requirement:
* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in conservation sciences, civil engineering, materials science, chemistry, architecture and surveying; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in the development of new sustainable construction materials and in experimental work within laboratories of civil engineering and/or chemistry. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research-degrees/how-to-apply/

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/ABE/PESCE) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender quality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


Grant, James, Pesce, Giovanni, Ball, Richard, Molinari, M. and Parker, Stephen (2016) An experimental and computational study to resolve the composition of dolomitic lime. RSC Advances, 6 (19). pp. 16066-16072. ISSN 2046-2069

Serrapede, Mara, Pesce, Giovanni, Ball, Richard and Denuault, Guy (2014) Nanostructured Pd hydride microelectrodes:In situ monitoring of pH variations in a porous medium. Analytical Chemistry, 86 (12). pp. 5758-5765. ISSN 0003-2700

Pesce, Giovanni, Bowen, Chris, Rocha, João, Sardo, Mariana, Allen, Geoffrey, Walker, Pete, Denuault, Guy, Serrapede, M. and Ball, Richard (2014) Monitoring hydration in lime-metakaolin composites using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Clay Minerals, 49 (3). pp. 341-358. ISSN 0009-8558

Pesce, Giovanni, Morgan, Deborah, Odgers, David, Henry, Alison, Allen, Mollie and Ball, Richard(2013) Consolidation of weathered limestone using nanolime. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Construction Materials, 166 (4). pp. 213-228. ISSN 1747-650X

Ball, Richard, Pesce, Giovanni, Bowen, Chris and Allen, Geoffrey (2012) Characterisation of Lime/Metakaolin Paste Using Impedance Spectroscopy. Key Engineering Materials, 517. pp. 487-494. ISSN 1662-9795
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