Structural steel reuse – PhD opportunity at UoBath

Fully-funded 3.5 year PhD on sustainable structural steel reuse under Will Hawkins alongside Michał P. Drewniok, PhD, Alex Copping and ASBP Patron member Cleveland Steel & Tubes Ltd. New deadline – 20th February!

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project, which is expected to commence in early 2022. Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Will Hawkins –


Global steel production has doubled in the past 20 years, half of which is used in construction. This alone contributes approximately 4% of global CO2 emissions. Considered a hard-to-decarbonise sector, there is growing pressure on the construction industry to reduce its carbon footprint, material consumption and waste. Indeed, this is rapidly increasing the appetite for sustainable solutions from both designers and clients.

Most structural steel is used in the form of standardised beam, column and hollow sections, and in the UK 93% of these are scrapped after use, where they are melted and recycled into new, albeit similar, components. This uses around half the energy and carbon than producing virgin steel from iron ore. However, by eliminating high-temperature processes entirely, direct reuse uses only a fraction of this.

Increasing today’s low rates of steel reuse would therefore unlock significant carbon savings in UK construction. Promisingly, interest in low carbon design solutions is currently surging, creating a new appetite for reused steel. Several barriers remain, however, with supply chain integration, stock availability and cost certainty still lacking. This project aims to offer practical solutions to these challenges. In close collaboration with industry, this project will identify 1) economical yet untapped sources of used steel, 2) effective means of making reused components accessible to designers and 3) the most appropriate end-uses from economical, engineering and environmental perspectives.

This project is co-sponsored by Cleveland Steel and Tubes Limited, who have pioneered the sustainable re-use of surplus and reclaimed steel for over 45 years. With an inventory of 75,000 tonnes at their headquarters in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, they have been able to reduce cost and embodied carbon on a large number of projects, including the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Applicant Requirements

This project would be suitable for a candidate with a background in engineering or construction, a keen interest in sustainability, and a desire to engage with industry.

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or non-UK equivalent). English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see

Funding Notes

Funding is for up to 3.5 years. It includes Home tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/2 rate).

Funding is available to candidates who qualify for ‘Home’ fee status. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the rules governing fee status have changed and, therefore, candidates from the EU/EEA are advised to check their eligibility before applying. If you are unsure whether you qualify for Home tuition fee status, please see our guide to understanding your tuition fee status, and the UKCISA guidance.

How to apply

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Civil Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here.

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