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Optimisation of reinforced-concrete structures for sustainability and cost-efficiency with the consideration of uncertainties


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Dr Han Fang and Dr Yue Huang
School of Civil Engineering
Research groups/institutes
Energy and Sustainable Buildings, Materials and Structures
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This project will develop low-carbon and cost-efficient reinforced-concrete structures for infrastructures applied in different environments. Reinforced-concrete structures have been widely used in bridges, tunnels, buildings and structures in the power industry. The exposure of these structures to the atmosphere, temperature, moisture and chloride in the service environment often leads to the deterioration of the strength and serviceability of the structures. This degradation can cause catastrophic failures of infrastructures and pose severe safety risks, resulting in uncertainties in life-cycle management and measurement increment of life-cycle costs and carbon footprint. For example, the annual cost in the UK for repairing motorway bridges with corrosion damage is about &pound;616.5 million (Broomfield, 2022).<br /> To resolve these problems, this project aims to find the optimal reinforced-concrete systems with due consideration of the life-cycle performance and with uncertainties associated with the applications in different environments. You will carry out investigations through experimenting, numerical modelling and validation, on the performance of reinforced-concrete structural elements with different reinforcing materials and mix designs for concrete (e.g. the use of industry by-products or waste and fibres) under the effect of environmental weathering. Environmental and economic life cycle assessment (LCA) will be carried out on defined functions of comparative structures. References to relevant Eurocode and ISO (e.g. ISO14040) will be made, to ensure fair comparison of material, design and maintenance intervention. Data validated obtained in this project will complement secondary data from literature. Sensitivity analysis will be carried out of key assumptions and methodological choices, such as allocation method and end-of-life scenarios (Huang et al., 2013). Furthermore, optimisation of the structural systems for lower-embodied carbon and life-cycle costs will be performed. The research outputs such as the reporting of key parameters influencing the structural performance in the life-cycle of reinforced-concrete systems for optimisation will benefit the industry in their pursuit of sustainable, economical and durable infrastructures.<br /> For the project, you are expected to have good knowledge in Civil/Structural Engineering, be open to experimental and numerical studies and interested in sustainability of infrastructures. You will also benefit from the research resources and facilities such as the access to George Earle Laboratory for experimental investigations.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PhD Civil Engineering FT,&nbsp;</strong></em>in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Optimisation of reinforced-concrete structures for sustainability and cost-efficiency with the consideration of uncertainties</strong></em> as well as&nbsp;<em><strong>Dr Han Fang</strong></em> as your proposed supervisor&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 3 April 2024 for Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship or 8 April 2024 for Leeds Doctoral Scholarship:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

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.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

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.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants (open from October 2023). <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong> &ndash;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China (now closed for 2024/25 entry). The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. <a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Important:&nbsp;</strong> Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <strong>not</strong> covered under these studentships.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information related to the project and funding opportunities, please contact Dr. Han Fang by email to&nbsp;<a href="Ā ">;</a></p> <p>For further information related to your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>