ECOCEMENTS – the future of sustainable constructions

Project reference number: SEBE_SELF_AK_2

Self-funded research applications are invited for the following PhD project at Glasgow Caledonian University. Please note that as this project is not funded by a university studentship, the successful candidate will be required to source external funding for the research degree fees and living expenses while studying at the university.

Research discipline areas

CO2 emission reduction, ecocements, supplementary cementitious materials, Superabsorbent Polymers, microstructure

Research Themes

 Building Resilience and Environmental Impact

Research Project Summary

The current construction industry is faced with ever rising demands for safer and more cost-effective infrastructure but also for more environmentally friendly products and processes with reduced carbon footprint. The way to address these requirements is to look towards multidisciplinary approaches in the developments of new sustainable building, which would require experts in diverse fields such as materials engineering, chemistry and building performance and instrumentation.

Portland cement is considered the most popular product used in construction industry, however cement industry is one of the major contributors for greenhouse gases emissions; fabrication of every tonne of ordinary Portland cement (OPC) releases about one tonne of carbon dioxide. Consequently, the transformation from the traditional way of producing cement into a sustainable business model is a challenge to be faced. For this reason, alternative cements with environmentally friendly formulations, which show similar performances to OPC are needed. The production of a new kind of binder, known as “alternative eco-friendly cement” may be an effective alternative to OPC. The term “alternative eco-friendly cement” refers to a man-made mineral material that, when grounded to fine powder, reacts quickly with water and produce a hardened mass, which can be used as binder in concrete or mortar.

The main general objective of this project is to develop new eco-cement with compressive strength values of at least 50 MPa after 28 hydration days. The fabrication process CSA eco-cement used in this project has a lower CO2-footprint when compared to that for OPC. Further decrease of CO2 emissions will be obtained by blending the eco-cement (and also OPC) with SCM (such as fly ash and granulated blast-furnace slag). The optimisation of the processing parameters, the understanding of the hydration mechanisms and the microstructure development of eco-cements are the key aspects to be considered.

  • To establish the hydration mechanisms of eco-cement based on calcium sulpho-aluminate (CSA)
  • To determine hydration reactions in blended eco-cement
  • To establish the effect of SAP in hydration kinetics of eco-cement
  • To establish the role of:
    • water-to-cement ratio and temperature.
    • particle size and particle size distribution on the mechanisms of the eco-cement hydration.
    • the type and amount of additives, such as superplasticisers to control the rheological behaviour of eco-cement pastes and final performances of corresponding mortars.
    • the type and amount of external hydrating activator.
  • To evaluate the performance of developed materials – durability assessment

Institute/Research Groups

BEAM Research Centre: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Application deadline

The application deadline for February 2019 start, is 1st of December, 2018

Research supervisors

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following researchers for further details:

Modes of study

This project is available as a:

  • PhD: 3 years full-time or 4.5 years part-time.


Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.


Specific requirements of the project

The project is particularly suited to students from civil and materials engineering background with good experimental and statistical skills, however applications are also welcome from students from related disciplines such as chemistry and architecture. The successful candidate will need to demonstrate a good understanding the technical aspects of the problem, any prior experience in conservation sector would be an advantage.