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EPSRC Bragg Centre DTP PhD Studentship: Corrosion of steel reinforcement in low-carbon concretes

Deadline: 3 May 2021

Location: University of Leeds

Steel reinforcement corrosion in concrete structures is the most prevalent global challenge for cities and their infrastructure. Globally, 2.2 trillion Euro are spent each year to prevent, mitigate, and repair civil concrete infrastructure damage due to corrosion of steel reinforcement. Understanding what factors influence the extent of corrosion of steel bars, considering changes in composition of the concretes cover layer, and characteristics at the steel-concrete interface, will enable to identify the most suitable strategies for mitigating corrosion in existing and future infrastructure

This project aims to understand the effect of the intrinsic characteristics of different concretes (e.g., pH, relative humidity, SOx, O2) in the formation mechanisms and characteristics of corrosion oxide films in embedded steel reinforcement concretes. Specific objectives are to: (i) determine the type and amount, composition and mineralogy, as well as porous network of oxide films forming in steels under simulated concrete environments and in rebars embedded in concretes; (ii) elucidate the factors influencing the stability of oxide films as a function of the chemical changes experienced in concrete cover layers (e.g. changes in alkalinity) as a function of time; and (iii) reveal the existing correlations between the oxide film characteristics and the electrochemical responses of steel in conditions relevant to reinforced concretes.

The successful applicant will achieve these objectives by accessing the state-of-the-art unique facilities available in the Bragg Centre of Materials Research, the UKCRIC National Centre of Infrastructure Materials and the Institute for Functional Surfaces. This includes in-situ microscopy (i.e. computerized tomography, cryo-scanning transmission electron microscopy), advanced environmental spectroscopy (i.e., photoelectron spectroscopy), and bespoke electrochemical devices and electrochemistry facilities. Synchrotron-based techniques (imaging, spectroscopy and diffraction) available at the Diamond Light Source will also be used in this study.

This research project will be conducted in the University of Leeds, and the supervisory team comprises senior academics with expertise in materials science and surface engineering, internationally recognised as world-leading researchers in the design, advanced characterisation and performance assessment of cementitious materials, as well as for corrosion studies of metals for energy and infrastructure applications.

Full description

This project is available as one of five PhD studentships with the Bragg Centre to tackle fundamental and applied problems to create new and improve existing materials. These will address fundamental and applied problems across design, characterisation, fabrication and modelling. 

The Centre comprises around 200 members from over sixteen Schools within the University of Leeds and has had continued investment in excellent facilities and infrastructure, including a new building opening in 2021, to ensure that our staff and students benefit from state-of-the-art, high quality equipment and laboratories. We are a founding partner of the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s Institute for Advanced Materials.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University’s website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Formation mechanisms of corrosion-resistant oxide films in steel reinforced low-carbon concretes as well as Professor Susan Bernal Lopez as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English language requirements (below).

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Entry requirements

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

English language requirements

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

Funding on offer

A highly competitive EPSRC Bragg Centre Doctoral Training Partnership Studentshipthe award of fees with a maintenance grant of £15,609 for session 2021/22 for 3.5 years. 

This opportunity is open to UK Applicants only.  All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Bragg Centre Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.

The UKCISA website will be updated in due course with information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals starting from September/October 2021.

Contact details

For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions
e:, t: +44 (0)113 343 5057.

For further information regarding the project, please contact Professor Susan Bernal Lopez

Published: April 22nd, 2021
Posted in Funding Opportunities

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