Polymers for green cements: a new chemistry to reduce the environmental impact of cements

Internship proposal 2021-2022

Soft Matter Science and Engineering Laboratory, (SIMM)

Address: ESPCI, 10 Rue Vauquelin 75005 Paris

Chair: Etienne Barthel

Supervisors: N. SANSON (nicolas.sanson (arobase) espci.fr), J.-B. d’ESPINOSE (jean-baptiste.despinose (arobase) espci.fr)

Scientific description:

Cement production is responsible for about 7% of worldwide CO2 emission. There is thus an urgent need to reduce the carbon imprint of cement and this leads to the conception of totally new mineral binders based on industrial by-products. However, these new cements need to be chemically activated by an alkali solution.1
As it turns out, the polymers used by the cement industry to fluidify cement pastes are inefficient in green cements. A PhD candidate currently working on this topic in our laboratory as shown that this is largely because the conformation and solubility of polymers change in alkali solutions.2
This project thus aims at designing new polymer architectures with controlled conformation at high alkali ionic strength.
We are looking for an intern to study the synthesis and conformation of such polymers as well as assess their impact on the rheology of activated cement pastes. This is thus a highly multidisciplinary topic that will be carried on in conjunction with a PhD candidate and an industrial group active in the field of construction materials. Besides working daily with the PhD candidate, the student will have to interact and report to the industrial partner. Good communication skills are thus required.

1 . Palacios, M., S. Gismera, S., Alonso, M. M., d’Espinose de Lacaillerie,J.-B. & Lothenbach B. Early reactivity of sodium silicate-activated slag pastes and its impact on rheological properties. Cem. Concr. Res. 140, 106302 (2021)
2 . Giraudeau, C., d’Espinose de Lacaillerie, J.-B., Souguir, Z., Nonat, A. & Flatt, R. J. Surface and Intercalation Chemistry of Polycarboxylate Copolymers in Cementitious Systems. J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 92, 2471–2488 (2009).

Techniques/methods in use: polymer synthesis, NMR, Size exclusion chromatography (SEC), light scattering, FTIR, rheology, zetametry, TOC (Total Organic Carbon).

Applicant skills:
-  General knowledge of polymer synthesis and characterization
-  General knowledge of the physical chemistry of colloids
-  Experimental skills
-  Reporting and communication skills

Keywords: polymer synthesis, polymer conformation, adsorption, low-CO2 cement

Industrial partnership: Yes (confidential)

Internship supervisors:
N. Sanson (nicolas.sanson (arobase) espci.fr), J-B. d’Espinose (jean-baptiste.despinose (arobase) espci.fr), C. Paillard (clara.paillard (arobase) espci.fr)
Internship location: Soft Matter Science and Engineering (SIMM) laboratory at ESPCI, a joint CNRS-ESPCI-SU laboratory, 10 rue Vauquelin 75005 Paris

Possibility for a Doctoral thesis: Yes. Several PhD openings are expected next year with a European consortium funded by the industry.

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Practical information

Sciences et Ingénierie de la Matière Molle

Soft Matter Enginering and Science Laboratory - UMR 7615

10 rue Vauquelin
75231 PARIS CEDEX 05
FRANCE

  • Chair : E. Barthel
  • Vice Chairs : J.B. d’Espinose & G. Ducouret
  • Administration : F. Decuq, M.-T. Mendy & M. Hirano-Courcot
  • Communication : A. Hakopian & M. Ciccotti
  • Information Technology : A. Hakopian
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