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Sprayed self-healing cement composites for repair

   School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  Dr A Blanco, Prof C Goodier, Prof S Cavalaro  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Approximately 50% of repaired concrete structures fail within five years, costing the UK £5Bn/year. Current labour-intensive inspection and maintenance strategies fail to deliver resilient infrastructure, resulting in recurring interventions and increased cost, material consumption, carbon footprint, and negative societal impact.

The sector is demanding a shift towards the implementation of new materials and technologies. Self-healing cement composites containing mineral or biologic agents that react with water percolating through cracks can produce compounds that seal openings of up to 0.3 mm and heal the material autonomously before significant damage occurs, avoiding the ingress of external aggressive agents.

This research aims to develop a repair process based on the use of a self-healing cement composite deployable through robotic spraying and for easy uptake by the industry. The main objectives are:

  • Develop a self-healing cement composite compatible with a robotic spraying deposition for repair purposes.
  • Evaluate the self-healing efficiency of the composite in terms of mechanical performance and durability through an extensive characterisation program and pilot experiences in real infrastructure.
  • Identify and assess performance-related constraints associated with the deposition method.
  • Formulate implementation guidelines that facilitate industrial uptake.

The research entails practical empirical engineering work in the laboratory of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Network Rail (sponsor of the studentship).


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours. To learn the equivalent for your country, please choose it from the drop-down below.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Students should have or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in civil engineering. A relevant master’s degree and/or employment experience in advanced cement composites, self-healing cement composites and/or spraying, and experience in data collection and analysis from laboratory and/or fieldwork will be an advantage. Excellent communication and IT skills are required.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.


All applications should be made online and must include a research proposal. Under the programme name, select 'Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering'. Please quote the advertised reference number: ABCE22/Network Rail in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Funding Notes

The three-year studentship will start in January 2023 and provides a tax-free stipend of £16,062 a year (rising in line with Research Council recommendations) for the duration of the studentship and full tuition fees (home or international) for three years. If the successful applicant is eligible for home fees, they will also benefit from a stipend top-up of up to £5,000 a year (exact value to be confirmed at a later stage).
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