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Prediction of early-age cracking in structural concrete

Concrete structures are popularly used to provide open space areas that are often incorporated into the design of sports, social and industrial structures. One of the concerns with in-situ concrete structures, especially long-span structures, is early-age thermal expansion and subsequent contraction as a result of the exothermic cement hydration reaction.

Thermal contraction, externally restrained by vertical structural elements such as columns and shear walls, may cause thermal cracking if it exceeds the tensile strength of the concrete.

This PhD project will explore the potential to precisely predict early-age temperature development of in-situ concrete via the finite element method.

In addition to computer simulations, this project will quantify the beneficial effect of using industry by-products such as ground granulated blast-furnace slag as a partial replacement of cement in controlling early-age cracking in structural concrete.

Possible research approaches:

  • Finite element modelling (FEM);
  • Experimental approaches including semi-adiabatic, isothermal calorimetry and adiabatic tests.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)


Kangkang Tang - Dr Kangkang Tang is a chartered civil and structural engineer (CEng MICE IStructE) and a senior lecturer leading the undergraduate civil engineering modules at Brunel University London. He is the course director of BEng Civil Engineering and BEng Civil Engineering with sustainablity. 

Related Research Group(s)

Resilient Structures and Construction Materials

Resilient Structures and Construction Materials - RIMS research group brings together material scientists and structural engineers to deliver resilient infrastructure (buildings, bridges etc.) made of sustainable, advanced materials to perform under harsh natural environment and human-induced hazards.