Bi-metallic connections in steel frames for enhanced structural resilience

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

UKRI and/or University of Surrey

Funding information

We are offering the UKRI standard stipend (currently £18,622 per year) with an additional bursary of £1,700 per year for full 3.5 years for exceptional candidates. In addition, a research, training and support grant of £3,000 over the project is also offered. Full home or overseas tuition fees (as applicable) will be covered.


​​Structures need to be designed against accidental loading by providing a notional level of robustness. Traditionally, this has been achieved through overdesigning with redundancy. However, enhancing structural ductility to enable better energy absorption can achieve the same level of robustness, leading to a more efficient design, reduced material consumption and a smaller carbon footprint, ultimately contributing to the goal of achieving net-zero construction. To achieve this, stainless steel can be incorporated into carbon steel structures for its durability, cost-efficiency, and ductility. This study proposes novel bi-metallic connections for steel frames to increase the whole structural ductility and resilience to accidental situations while reducing the amount of redundant steel. Stainless steel will be used in beam-to-column connections while other structural members will remain carbon steel. 

​This study aims to investigate the robustness of bi-metallic connections in steel frames, specifically their ability to withstand impact loadings. Laboratory tests will be conducted on stainless steel materials and connections to investigate their currently unexplored behaviour and to generate essential impact test data under different strain rates. Subsequently, numerical analysis will be conducted to simulate different bi-metallic connection layouts and assess their behaviour under impact loadings. Further numerical simulations of steel frames incorporating selected bi-metallic connections will be performed to study their overall structural resilience to impact loadings. 

​Introducing stainless steel into carbon steel structures aligns with net-zero emission goals by enhancing structural resilience and reducing material consumption. This study will propose design recommendations for innovative bi-metallic connections and promote their application in the industry. This contribution aligns with the broader goal of advancing greener and safer construction practices in infrastructure and building retrofitting. This study also paves the way for an upcoming new investigator's award application focused on optimising bi-metallic systems.​ 

Eligibility criteria

Open to both UK and international candidates.

Up to 30% of our UKRI-funded studentships can be awarded to candidates paying international rate fees. Find out more about eligibility.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal, you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Yidu Bu

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