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Funding and scholarships for students

Award details

Development of carbon negative building materials. EMPS College Home fees Studentship, PhD in Engineering. Ref: 4316

About the award

Supervisors

Lead Supervisor: 

Dr Raffaele Vinai - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus.

Co-supervisor:

Dr Matt Eames - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus.

Location:

Department of Engineering, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences  is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. 

This College studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate.

Project Description:

The aim of this project is to develop novel and sustainable solutions for the construction sector, which is responsible for about 30% of the total UK energy consumption. UK housing stock exceeds 24 million units, more than 80% of which built before 1990 with very poor thermal insulation. Current insulation options are based on the use of oil-derived polymers or other energy-intensive materials (expanded polystyrene, polyurethane foam, rock wool). We intend to develop building panels produced with nearly 100% recycled or renewable (bio-based) materials, which not only will be carbon negative (i.e. will sequestrate CO2), but also will be able to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 25%.

Underpinning the concept will be the development of materials such as bio-based lightweight insulation core using vegetal fibres or other bio-based materials, bio-derived lime-based binder, low carbon cementitious materials such as alkali activated binders (AAB) - a novel class of cementitious material having 70% lower embodied carbon than OPC, whose constituents can be sourced from waste streams of several industrial processes.

The construction industry is a very conservative and ‘difficult to decarbonise’ sector. It has an economic output of £119 billion, representing more than 6% of UK GDP and employing over 2.4 million people (2019 data). The novel concepts developed in this project will give a significant impetus to sustainable manufacturing in the construction sector, as they will (a) deliver a novel product with negative carbon emission that can be adopted on a potential market of 20 million houses in the UK for retrofitting, and in the order of hundreds of thousands new dwellings; (b) promote circular economy and provide a viable recycling opportunity for a range of waste streams currently not recycled.

Mechanical and thermal parameters as well as durability properties of developed materials will be used for advanced numerical simulations of structural design and energy performance under changing climate conditions, aiming at a future-proof, carbon negative built environment.

Entry requirements

This studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tution fees at the home fees rate.

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

Degree in Civil or Material Engineering is preferable, ideally at MEng level. Previous experiences in building materials development and testing is required. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. 

Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.  Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”.

• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior project work experience and reasons for
  wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an
   interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email
   the reference direct to pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.  Please see the entry requirements information above.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 10th January 2022. Interviews will be held online on the week commencing 24th January 2022

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk.

Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor at R.Vinai@exeter.ac.uk

Summary

Application deadline:10th January 2022
Value:Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk