Engineered Calcium-Silicate-Hydrates for Applications

A project funded by the European Union under the

Horizon 2020 – Marie Sklodowska-Curie - Innovative Training Network (ITN) programme

After two highly-successful ITN projects, we are delighted to have been made a third award – ERICA. ERICA is an innovative, five-nation project straddling materials science and engineering, physics and chemistry in diverse areas of experimentation and computational modelling. We are seeking to appoint 13 PhD students to this project based in the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany.

ERICA - aims and objectives

Inorganic hydrates such as calcium-silicate-hydrate, (CaO)x(SiO2)(H2O)y, abbreviated C-S-H, are “wonder” materials exceedingly rich in terms of potential applications that can be produced in almost any shape or form, cheaply and in large quantities right across the world from local and sustainable resources. C-S-H is the “glue” of cement, itself the glue of concrete, material with enormous economic impact. But C-S-H and other hydrates are also used as a filler in paper and in polymer composites, as dental filling materials, for waste water treatment in fertilizers and as insulation and encasement materials including for nuclear waste.

The overarching aim of the ERICA project is to understand how to engineer hydrates at the nanoscale, to enable improved engineering applications, and to train a cohort of materials scientists who will be able to carry these research advances forward in future employment.

Why is ERICA important? There are many reasons, but if we pick one, it is surely that C-S-H is the main phase controlling the performance of cement-based materials. These materials are so widely used that their production is the leading industrial source of greenhouse gases, contributing about 8% of global CO2 emissions despite very low emissions per kg. Engineering C-S-H growth for faster strength development and for improved performance, such as water transport that affects C-S-H durability, is key to further lowering the CO2 impact of construction.

--> How to apply: see page