Materials Engineering: Fully Funded PhD at Swansea: Building Insulation from Waste Industrial Slag

  • Phd
  • Full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 14 June 2021
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Materials Engineering: Fully Funded Swansea University and SUSTAIN PhD Scholarship: Fireproof High Efficiency Inorganic Building Insulation from Waste Industrial Slag

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University and SUSTAIN (EPRSC Future Manufacturing Research Hub).

Start date: October 2021

Expected interview date: w/c 5 July 2021

Subject areas: Foundation Industry, Waste Recovery, Engineering

Project supervisors: Professor Dave Worsley

Project description: 
Steelmaking produces large megaton quantities of slag, which due to its high soluble calcium content cannot easily be used as an aggregate material as it swells. The slag as-formed contains considerable quantities of entrapped gases and hence upon solidification has quite an open structure. Steel slags form the basis of Rockwool insulation which is used widely in buildings as it is an excellent insulator, is stable chemically and totally fire resistant. Recent high-profile building fires have thrown the light on certain polymeric cored metal products and there is a need for alternate non-combustible insulation. This project will seek to explore how molten slag can be used direct from the steel plant and cast into a board product. Our intention is to produce a structurally rigid insulation board that could be used as a stand-alone material or in composite steel panels. 

The aim will be to gain a full understanding of the chemical properties of various steel slags from both the BOS process as used in a conventional integrated works and that from steel recycled through electric arc routes. The work will evolve to consider the high temperature properties of the slag and how to increase the foaming characteristic during solidification to maximise strength and minimise weight. This can be done on small static casts and then a model continuous casting process will be designed to emulate that produced for strip casting to enable a 30-50mm board product to be produced continuously from input molten slag in a very similar process to that used for metal casting.

This has potential to be an idea deployed in all steel plants and indeed in other areas (such as glass) where inorganic slag like materials are produced. Since the product is high in value addition, and is being made from something that would normally be landfilled it has incredible importance economically and from an environmental perspective as it is made from direct feed of molten slag (with no remelting) its carbon footprint is superior. We would also project that this could be transformative in building insulation since as a structural fireproof building element it has huge advantages over both timber and polymeric based products.

Available resources/facilities: As a PhD student in the SUSTAIN Hub, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to access laboratory and pilot facilities across the network. The Hub has close ties with industry, and there will be chances to work with our industrial partners, such as Tata Steel UK.


Candidates should hold a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) in Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry/Chemical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. However, any Science or Engineering discipline with relevant experience will be considered.

Industrial experience, particularly in the metals sector, is desirable.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University‚Äôs English Language entry requirements, please visit ‚Äst

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £20,000. 

There will be additional funds available for research expenses.


Please visit our website for more information.
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