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Enabling Steel Reuse in the UK

Location: University of Bath

Deadline: 20th February 2022

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project, co-sponsored by Cleveland Steel & Tubes Limited. It will ideally start before 01 April 2022, but the start date is flexible for the right candidate, and could be as late as September 2022.

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Will Hawkins –

Global steel production has doubled in the past 20 years, half of which is used in construction. This alone contributes approximately 4% of global CO2 emissions. Considered a hard-to-decarbonise sector, there is growing pressure on the construction industry to reduce its carbon footprint, material consumption and waste. Indeed, this is rapidly increasing the appetite for sustainable solutions from both designers and clients.

Most structural steel is used in the form of standardised beam, column and hollow sections, and in the UK 93% of these are scrapped after use, where they are melted and recycled into new, albeit similar, components. This uses around half the energy and carbon than producing virgin steel from iron ore. However, by eliminating high-temperature processes entirely, direct reuse uses only a fraction of this.

Increasing today’s low rates of steel reuse would therefore unlock significant carbon savings in UK construction. Promisingly, interest in low carbon design solutions is currently surging, creating a new appetite for reused steel. Several barriers remain, however, with supply chain integration, stock availability and cost certainty still lacking. This project aims to offer practical solutions to these challenges. In close collaboration with industry, this project will identify 1) economical yet untapped sources of used steel, 2) effective means of making reused components accessible to designers and 3) the most appropriate end-uses from economical, engineering and environmental perspectives.

This project is co-sponsored by Cleveland Steel & Tubes Limited, who have pioneered the sustainable re-use of surplus and reclaimed steel for over 45 years. With an inventory of 75,000 tonnes at their headquarters in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, they have been able to reduce cost and embodied carbon on a large number of projects, including the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Applicant Requirements

This project would be suitable for a candidate with a background in engineering or construction, a keen interest in sustainability, and a desire to engage with industry. 

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

View full details and apply online

Published: February 1st, 2022
Posted in PhD opportunities

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