Centre Internacional de Metodes Numerics en la Enginyeria
Title of the PhD project: Coupled modelling of polymeric reinforced geotechnical structures subjected to environmental conditions
Polymeric reinforcement materials are now used routinely as soil reinforcement and stabilization, as well as barrier systems and hydraulics, within the framework of Civil Engineering. These geosynthetic materials can play a role in meeting the global challenges facing society in terms of United Nations sustainability goals, approaches for counting carbon in both mitigating, and adapting to the impacts of climate change (Dixon et al. 2018. Keynote Lecture at 11ICG).
As example, in mechanically stabilized earth structures,
the important role of temperature and relative humidity on the chemical degradation of polyester (PET) fibres due to hydrolysis is well documented in the literature. Strength and stiffness of the polyester fibers can be expected to decrease with increasing temperature and in the presence of moisture. This has practical implications for the selection of the partial factor for creep and chemical degradation that is used in internal stability limit state design for PET strap MSE walls. The PET multi-filament core of the straps is protected against installation damage and moisture by a polyethylene sheath. Nevertheless, this sheath still permits the exposure of the polyester filaments to moisture over the life of reinforcement. For example, HDPE coatings are permeable to water vapor over the long term and thus moisture can accumulate in the air voids between the PET fibers. The rate of degradation due to hydrolysis will vary with temperature which can vary widely depending on the environment (location) in which the straps are placed, and temporally with time of day and season.
The project will focus on the analyses using numerical simulations carried out to estimate, first, all significant environmental features temperature, relative humidity, liquid water content, rainfall precipitation filtration, etc.) that change in-soil regarding different ground properties and atmospheric boundary conditions, and second, to reliably predict the long-term strength loss and stiffness relaxation in polymeric materials buried in different soil environments while subjected to different tensile loads and temperatures.
The research shall include the development of the necessary theoretical and numerical approaches and strategies to model polymeric reinforcements and other engineering components present in geotechnical structures such as reinforced soil walls. Coupled THMC problems will be simulated using CODE_BRIGHT/GID software platform. The research will benefit from current synergies in the Geotechnical group and CODE_BRIGHT Team
The functions assigned to the candidate will be:
- Complete a PhD on Geotechnical Engineering and Geosciences (Enginyeria del Terreny) at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech. The candidate is expected to complete the PhD thesis in a maximum of three years.
- Collaborate with various research groups within CIMNE and worldwide.
- To publish a minimum of two papers in JCR journals during the PhD period, author and co-author articles in high-impact international journals.
- Carry out quality research, training and management.
- Participate on the dissemination and outreach activities associated with the project.
- Participate in international conferences presenting her/his work.
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