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Structural Performance of Innovative Steel-Timber Composite Beams (Advert Reference: RDFC22-A/EE/MCE/POOLOGANATHAN)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Assoc Prof Keerthan Poologanathan, Assoc Prof Marco Corradi, Dr Hoang Nguyen  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Newcastle United Kingdom Construction Management Metallurgy Materials Science Structural Engineering

About the Project

The studies on steel-timber composite beams revealed to be suitable solutions for prefabricated buildings and even for multi-story buildings at seismic areas and provide opportunities to reduce the greenhouse gas emission. Moreover, benefits of these systems are identified such as light weight, highly industrialized buildings, and high speed in installations, totally dry construction, easily replaceable components that can be restored and fully recycled during the building lifetime. These systems have been developed in various countries all over the world like Italy, in Canada, in Austria as well as in the UK.

The composite action of steel-timber reduces the stresses of the steel beam compared to the pure steel beam without composite action. This means that there exists a large potential to search lightweight, dry slim floor, low emission and cost optimal solutions using this composite beam due to large variations for available steel grades of the welded beam, as has been shown previously for pure welded steel beams. Hence, the wide applicability of steel-timber in the construction industry would be viable option to reduce the carbon foot print in the construction. Steel-timber composite beams were introduced to ensure the optimization of material as well as structural performance. Hence, they could play a prominent role in the prefabricated building industry and studying the structural performance of various steel-timber composite beams and proposing novel section for future is indispensable.

The overall aim of this research to develop an innovative steel-timber composite beams through optimisation, experimental and finite element analysis. This project will enable the development of new design methodology that could ultimately improve the structural performance, sustainability and minimises the use of materials and carbon footprint of the UK’s construction sector.

The specific tasks of this study are to:

  1. Perform a detailed literature survey on the sustainable and structural performance of steel-timber composite beams.
  2. Optimisation of steel-timber composite beams’ dimensions to minimise the amount of material required for a given structural capacity.
  3. Conduct full-scale structural tests for optimised steel and timber having different section depths.
  4. Develop Finite element models of optimised steel-timber composite beams to simulate their structural behaviours and capacities.
  5. Validate the finite element model and subsequently, using it for generating a wide range of structural capacity data.
  6. Check the suitability of the current design standards for the capacities of steel-timber composite beams using test and finite element results.
  7. Investigate the sustainability performance of the system through its entire life cycle and end to end process.
  8. Investigate the carbon footprint associated with the system and the process.
  9. Develop a design methodology combining the results of weight optimisation and sustainability investigations.

The principal supervisor for this project is Associate Professor Keerthan Poologanathan.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

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]); 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 currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

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


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. RDFC22-A/EE/MCE/POOLOGANATHAN) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home Students and includes a full stipend, paid for 3 years at RCUK rates (for 2021/2, this is £15,609 p.a.) and full tuition fees.
* Please note that in order to be classed as Home Student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
- be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
- have settled status, or
- have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
- have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
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