Offshore Energy Infrastructure: Development of Low Carbon Concrete Materials

Academic Institution: University of Dundee

Academic Supervisor: Dr Michael J McCarthy

Industry Partner: UKQAA

PhD Student: TBC

Start Date: TBC


Concrete construction is the most cost effective way to minimise LCOE for offshore energy structures but it is imperative that the materials have minimum embodied energy, without compromising durability. Currently, however, these have too much embodied CO2 and it is necessary to develop low carbon reinforced concrete for deployment in the marine environment.

Low or no Portland cement (PC) concretes have been investigated but are unsuitable for large-scale construction. Worldwide, therefore, the supply chain will continue to use materials based on PC as the‘core’ chemistry but minimise this by dilution with various additions (limestone, fly ash, and ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS)). These composite cements bring unknowns to designers, particularly durability in seawater and practical construction issues, e.g. early strength.

In investigating the materials, the project will integrate advanced analytical microstructure techniques with fundamental engineering science and concrete technology.

The research will initially focus on hydration characteristics and microstructure development to establish a reliable dataset of concrete performance parameters. Practical test mixes will be established and evaluated/optimised for construction requirements including admixture compatibility, early strength and mechanical properties. Durability relevant to the offshore environment i.e. abrasion, chloride transportation, carbonation, sulfate attack and freeze-thaw damage will be determined and mixes further optimised. The role of microstructure and chemistry on these and balance between performance achieved and environmental impact will be evaluated.

The supervisory team will comprise staff with civil engineering/ materials (Dundee) and cement chemistry (Aberdeen) expertise. The industry representative (UK Quality Ash Association) has 30+ years experience in concrete materials and represents various supply chain sectors. This combination will ensure the required balance (science and technology) is achieved. Guidance will be developed and disseminated through published journal papers and organised seminars. The industrial partner will ensure the research outcomes reach end users directly and feed into British/European Standards.