Epsrc Fibe2 Cdt PhD Studentship with Highways England Monitoring of Early Detection of Corrosion in Infrastructure

Outstanding international students are invited to apply for a PhD scholarship at University of Cambridge. Candidates are welcome before May 29, 2020.

This is a four-year (1+3 MRes/PhD) studentship funded through the Cambridge EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment: Resilience in a Changing World (FIBE2 CDT). The FIBE2 CDT aims to develop the next generation of infrastructure professionals who can create, shape and deliver the national vision for UK (UK scholarships) infrastructure, who will be equipped with a versatile and cross-disciplinary skill set to meet the most complex emerging challenges and contribute effectively to better infrastructure decision-making in the UK. Further details can be found at

The project is funded in collaboration with Highways England, the government organisation responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England.

One of the major challenges we face in our efforts to maintain the functionality and resilience of our infrastructure is corrosion. Steel corrosion is the largest and most costly deterioration problem in reinforced concrete, with a UK annual budget of >1 billion. Highways England are responsible for all issues relating to corrosion protection of both reinforced concrete and steelwork structures on the road network. The corrosion of steel reinforcement in concrete structures manifests itself in rust formation, cracking and delamination leading to the damage and degradation of structures.

Very early stage detection of reinforcement corrosion would provide significant benefits in protecting assets and optimising maintenance regimes. Hence the development and use of monitoring systems to enable such early detection is one area of research interest. Development of new and innovative coating systems to prevent concrete and steel deterioration is another area. Weathering steel is increasingly being used, under suitable exposure conditions, in highway bridges as a durable low maintenance material. This leads to requirements for corrosion monitoring to assess the adequate provision of the sacrificial thickness allowance made in design. Current methods of corrosion monitoring involve direct contact with the steel surface and generally involve affecting the protective patina there. Investigating methods of remote monitoring of section loss/residual steel thickness without affecting the protective patina is a fourth area of interest.

Hence, there are many challenges concerning corrosion that could form the topic of the PhD study, such as: – Early stage corrosion detection. – New coatings for concrete or steel structures. – Early stage corrosion elimination. – Monitoring the rate of corrosion and loss of section of weathering steel.

The scope of the PhD project is purposefully broad to encourage exploration of different relevant aspects and the interest and background of candidates. Defining and finalising the scope and objectives of the PhD study will form part of the MRes year.

For general enquiries, please email For project-specific enquiries please email Professor Abir Al-Tabbaa (

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in materials science, chemistry or chemical engineering.

The FIBE2 CDT studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for UK/EU students or provide fees only for EU students from outside the UK. Further details about eligibility can be found at:

Applications should be made online, with project and supervisor clearly stated on the application form.

The closing date for applications is 29 May, however applications will be considered on a rolling basis, so an appointment could be made prior to this date.

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