Development of lightweight concrete using recycled bio-based aggregates

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


October 22, 2022


Development of lightweight concrete using recycled bio-based aggregates

(ref. BAP-2022-635)

Last modification : Friday, August 26, 2022

This interdisciplinary research will be hosted by KU Leuven (Belgium) - Laboratory of Acoustics in the Soft Matter and Biophysics Unit of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Leuven, under supervision of prof. Monika Rychtáriková (Dep. of Architecure) and prof. Christ Glorieux (Dep. of Physics and Astronomy). Part of the study will be performed at STU Bratislava (Slovakia) under supervision of prof. Stanislav Unčík (Dep. of Materials sciencie and Physics); and in close collaboration with EPF engineering school (France) under the supervision of Dr. Maroua Maaroufi. Samples and know-how will also be exchanged with industrial partners of the ACTAREBUILD project consortium. such as Cemetos Molins, Spain.

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This PhD focuses on the development of new concretes using recycled aggregates with enhanced thermal and acoustic insulation properties by combining lightweight waste with usual binders, in accordance with the framework of the ACTAREBUILD EU - DN - project.

Building materials are responsible for a significant environmental impact, either on energy consumption through heating and cooling, or in the over exploitation of raw natural resources that are not always renewable. One alternative to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings is the use of new lightweight concretes based on low environmental impact aggregates. The possibilities are various, as both recycled waste and bio-based aggregates can be used in those concretes. The main focus of this PhDis exploring the less known materials, based on foamed plastics or a combination of foamed and dense plastics. The aim of this thesis is to develop thermally and acoustically performant materials, that are suitable for the conversion of office buildings to dwellings.

The project includes experimental work since a number of properties will be determined (bulk density, thermal insulation, water absorption, acoustic properties, etc.) along with their durability. They will be compared numerically through modelling of the thermal and acoustic properties. The variants of newly developed sustainable lightweight concrete will be obtained by the combination of different binder types, various bio-aggregates, and natural mineral aggregates. Final optimization of the properties will be done by means of admixtures and additives.


If you recognise yourself in the story below, then you have the profile that fits the project and the research group.

  • I have a master degree in engineering, materials sciences, physics, architecture or architectural engineering,
  • I do not yet have a PhD
  • I am proficient in written and spoken English.
  • I have an appetence for experimental work and write and communicate clearly in an interdisciplinary environment
  • I am adept at learning new concepts, skills and tasks and have a problem- solving approach to complex challenges
  • As PhD researcher, I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical and scientific papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself.
  • I work goal-oriented and have a getting-things-done attitude, always with scientific rigor.
  • In frequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results that I have obtained and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. I iterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisors which steer the direction of my research.
  • I feel comfortable working as a team member and I am eager to share my results to inspire my colleagues and be inspired by them.
  • I value being part of a project that aims at finding sustainable solutions in the domain of building applications and I am eager to learn how academic research can be linked to industrial innovation roadmaps.
  • During my PhD I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved in and representing the research group on project meetings or conferences. I see these events as an occasion to disseminate my work to an audience of international experts and research colleagues, and to learn about the larger context of my research and the research project.
  • Previous experience in modelling and simulation will be appreciated, but not mandatory
  • During the past 3 years I have not resided, studied or worked in Belgium for more than 12 months.
  • Offer
  • A remuneration package in line with Marie Sklodowska Curie Doctoral Network regulations
  • The researcher allowances granted by Europe will cover all (employer's and employee's) taxes and contributions; the exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment.
  • An opportunity to pursue a PhD in Architecture (KU Leuven) and Engineering (STU Bratislava) as joint PhD degree, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment with 4 years funding
  • An opportunity to work within a challenging European research project with leading industry players across Europe.
  • A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry, lead to a safe town with high quality of life, welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the KU Leuven the most innovative university in Europe. Further information can be found on the website of the university: https: // www.
  • This PhD will be performed as joint PhD degree between KU Leuven and STU Bratislava (Slovakia) in collaboration with EPF Cachan (France)
  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Monika Rychtarikova, tel.: +32 16 32 78 44, mail: or Prof. dr. Christ Glorieux, tel.: +32 16 32 72 01, mail:

    For your effective application, please supply:

    • Copy of Master's diploma • Curriculum Vitae • Motivation letter • 2 Recommendation letters • Transcript of the grades • Proof of English proficiency

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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