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Design and optimisation of concrete structures using mesh free peridynamic analysis

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Orr
    Prof T Ibell
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This project will be undertaken at the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath.
In the recently published ‘Research Excellence Framework 2014’ (REF2014) the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering was ranked number 1 in the UK for our research in the “Architecture, Built Environment and Planning” unit of assessment. REF2014 is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The successful applicant to this project will therefore be joining a Department that undertakes and supports world-class research.

Project information
Concrete is the world’s most widely used man-made material and the manufacture of its principal component accounts for a large proportion of global raw material expenditure. Although concrete has a low embodied energy (0.9MJ/kg), the magnitude of its consumption makes cement manufacture accountable for at least 5% of global CO2 emissions. Despite this impact, research shows that structural concrete is generally inefficiently used in the built environment to the extent that significant reductions in material use and cost could be achieved by design optimisation.

Despite the massive use of concrete by the construction industry, its optimization remains a scientific and engineering challenge, with important consequences for global environment and economy. Difficulties predicting the material behaviour once it cracks are part of the problem, since optimization relies on accurate models. As the cracks start to grow, the hypothesis of material continuity, critical to the differential equations of the classical theory, becomes obsolete. In fact, many issues are documented in the literature regarding the employment of the classical continuum solid mechanics and the finite element method in this context.

This PhD will look to solve these problems through the application of a new analytical tool based on the recent method known as Peridynamics. This new approach to material modelling has the potential to consistently and efficiently account for the structural behaviour of reinforced concrete structures, providing the fundamental basis for new analysis, design and optimisation methods.

The successful candidate will work with Dr Orr’s team to develop new computational approaches to analysis of concrete structures, and to verify these with small scale laboratory testing.

This project will utilise expertise within BRE CICM to support the PhD student in meeting the project goals. The novel optimisation method resulting from this PhD will replace previous approaches with a robust computational model that can consider any structural geometry under the wide range of optimisation constraints that exist in reality. The research output will be immediately utilised in industry to reduce the embodied carbon of new concrete structures.

Applicants should have a degree in civil or structural engineering, although a related discipline may also be considered. Strong English communication abilities are essential.

Interested applicants should complete an online application form. Any initial enquiries can be submitted to Dr John Orr prior to completing the application form, by email – [email protected]

Applicants will be asked to submit some personal details and upload your transcript and details of an academic referee. Applicants will also need proof of your English language ability if you are a non-native English speaker.

Interviews (at the University of Bath or via Skype) will take place in March 2016

For further information about the studentship applicants should contact:
Dr John Orr
[email protected]

Funding Notes

Home or EU tuition fees paid in full for three years
(Overseas applicants will have to pay the difference between the home and overseas fees)
• Annual stipend of £14,000 (2015/16 rate) for living expenses
• training support grant of £1,000 per year (for travel, consumables, etc.)
This studentship is funded by the University of Bath


We require one academic reference. You will be asked to supply details when you make an online application.
All applicants will be asked to make an online application to the University. At this stage you will have to supply details of an academic referee.

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