Calcined clays as a reactive alternative to fly ash as a binder in Portland cement concrete

Calcined clays as a reactive alternative to fly ash as a binder in Portland cement concrete

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

PhD funding award: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

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Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: Applications complete with full supporting documentation must be received by 14 November 2019 by 4pm at the latest

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2020

To find out more about the project please contact Professor Mark Tyrer.


A fully-funded PhD studentship in partnership with the BRE Trust is available to study the use of naturally occurring clays as reactive (pozzolanic) materials for low carbon cement production. The project will examine the availability, mineralogy, and chemistry of clays in the United Kingdom, analysed by a range of classical and instrumental techniques. These will be thermally activated and their reactivity towards alkalis examined. These materials will be used to produce blended cements and their properties examined to establish their hydration properties, strength and durability. Ultimately, these materials will be used to produce mortars and concretes and their utility as engineering materials explored. The project will consider the sustainability of such materials, their role in carbon footprint reduction along with their performance in a range of service environments.

The project

The project is largely focused on the material science aspects of these cements and would suit graduates in materials or earth sciences, chemistry or civil engineering, although enthusiastic applicants from other disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Candidates with some experience of research will be at an advantage. This project will be guided by experts both from industry and collaborating universities but without any commercial restrictions on the research.

Funding details

Fully funded to cover tuition fees and UKRI stipend level


  • The successful candidate will recieve comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.
  • All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • An interest in cement/concrete. Some experience with evaluating fresh and hardened concrete (flow/cohesion and compressive strength) desirable
  • Assessment of mineralogy of inorganic materials (eg: instrumental methods) - or ability to learn this.
  • Chemistry to A level or similar (for simple bench top chemistry/pozzolanicity tests)
  • A first degree in materials science, earth sciences, chemistry, civil engineering degree or similar
  • Ability to source and interpret data on availability of clays and commercial aspects/costs, CO2 impacts etc.

How to apply

You can apply by submitting full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000 word supporting statement showing how your expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

To find out more about the project and to discuss your suitability to apply (particularly relating to those with professional experience in this field) please contact Professor Mark Tyrer.

Apply to Coventry University