Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Tom Benn

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
05 Dec 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
32,500 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

The objective of this PhD project proposal is to investigate the long term durability of concrete/mortar made with recycled Port Augusta fly ash. The key question is whether the use of recycled fly ash in concrete/mortar will adversely affect the durability of the material, with a focus on aspects related to chloride ion ingress, drying shrinkage, resistance to carbonation, sulfate resistance, and mitigation against alkali silica reaction. The challenge addressed by this project is to provide scientific evidence and knowledge to support the use of Port Augusta recycled fly ash in concrete/mortar, as a sustainable and effective alternative to traditional materials. The approach will involve laboratory testing and data analysis to evaluate the performance of concrete/mortar made with recycled fly ash in terms of its durability and resistance to chemical attacks.

The anticipated outcomes of this project include: 

  1. scientific evidence and knowledge to support the use of recycled fly ash in concrete/mortar, 
  2. improved understanding of the long term durability of concrete/mortar made with recycled fly ash, 
  3. development of sustainable and effective alternative materials for construction, 
  4. engagement with industry partner Hallett Group and potential end users, 
  5. dissemination of research findings through publication in scientific journals and conference presentations. The outputs of this project will include laboratory data, scientific papers, and reports. Engagement with industry partner Hallett Group and potential end users will facilitate the translation of research findings into practical applications and impact.

What you’ll do

This project complements existing research themes in the areas of sustainable construction and materials science, and aligns with the strategic objectives of UniSA and national priorities related to sustainable development and environmental protection. This project will be conducted in collaboration with industry partner, Hallett Group, which has a strong commitment to sustainability and innovation in the construction industry. The project also aligns with the research concentrations and Areas of Research strength at UniSA, particularly in the field of civil engineering and materials science. The potential end users of this research include pre-mix concrete suppliers, construction companies, engineering firms, and government agencies involved in infrastructure development and management, who will benefit from the development of sustainable and effective alternative materials for construction.

The applicant will work in a research lab equipped with a state of the art facilities for material characterization and mechanical testing. The lab is located within the university's School of Engineering, which has a strong track record in sustainable materials research.

The applicant will also undertake a variety of activities including literature review, material synthesis and characterization, mechanical testing, data analysis, and report writing. Travel may be required to attend conferences or present research findings, and placement in an industry partner may be available depending on project progress.

Where you’ll be based

The supervisory team for this project has strong capacity and track record in the field of civil engineering and materials science. Dr. Tom Benn, as the principal supervisor, has extensive experience in the field of construction materials. 

Prof. Yan Zhuge and Prof. William Skinner have expertise in the areas of materials, properties, and testing, and have supervised numerous PhD and Masters students and have a strong track record of research publications and grants. 

Dr. Reza Hassanli has expertise in using of recycled materials. The supervisors will provide additional expertise and support in the areas of materials science, chemistry, and engineering. This project will contribute to the development of supervisory and research capacity by providing opportunities for mentoring and training of the PhD candidate, as well as collaboration and knowledge exchange among the supervisory team.

Supervisory team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum, funded by National Industry PhD and UniSA, is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

An additional top-up scholarship with a value of $16,210 per annum will be offered to the preferred applicant.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Tuesday, 5th of December.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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If you wish to develop your own project please review our guidelines and contact the Graduate Research Admissions team if you have any questions. 

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