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  Use of Recovered Toner Powder to Enhance Durability, Engineering and Sustainability Performance of Structural Concrete Elements

   School of Science and Engineering

  ,  Wednesday, February 28, 2024  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The working life of reinforced/prestressed concrete elements is often determined by serviceability limit state which is governed by the movement of harmful moisture into the structure and propagating/initiating corrosion of steel reinforcement. Recovered toner powder (RTP) is a highly engineered hydrophobic waste material currently being sent to landfill (approximately 5000 tonnes per annum, classified as hazardous due to its fine particle) which has the potential to modify the water resistance of concrete and provide a greater performance level. The project will consist of four phases:

Phase 1: Concrete Microstructural Characterisation and Optimisation

Using mercury intrusion porisimetry, nitrogen adsorption and micro-computed tomography, the influence of RTP on concrete microstructure and reinforcement interfacial transition zone will be determined. A parametric study will allow RTP content to be optimised with the particle size distribution of the cements considered (CEM I, II, III).

Phase 2: Water Resistance and Durability Study

Using water penetration and sorptivity techniques, the project will examine water movement within optimised RTP concretes as well as chloride ingress/carbonation resistance, the main causes of corrosion of embedded steel. This will provide data for modelling of service life (initiation and propagation periods) of structural elements.

Phase 3: Engineering Performance and Service Life Modelling

Compressive/tensile strength and E-value of concrete elements will be examined to assess the impact of optimised RTP contents. The outputs of this along with Phase 2 will allow numerical modelling of concrete elements under selected exposure conditions to determine alignment with intended working life requirements in BS EN 1992 and BS 8500.

Phase 4: Sustainability Study

Using industry embodied CO2 figures (Mineral Products Association), a comparison of cradle to gate sustainability in conjunction with the outputs from Phases 1-3 will allow an iterative approach to materials selection to provide optimised concretes based on engineering performance, serviceability requirements and up-front carbon.

Benefits to Structural Engineers: Enhancing the service life is beneficial to structural engineers and clients. The use of RTP has the potential to provide greater protection to embedded carbon steel and hence lower intervention and maintenance costs for key structural elements which are often difficult to access. RTP may also allow greater optimisation of construction materials (and hence resources) allowing structural engineers to achieve greater performance with less materials (key for reducing embodied up-front carbon) and contribute to significant reductions in capital, lifecycle and whole life costs of structures.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Moray Newlands ()

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Step 1: Email Dr Moray Newlands () to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Newlands, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Civil Engineering: Civil engineering research degrees | University of Dundee

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the Research Proposal section, please:

-       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.

Register your interest for this project

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