Click on the links for more detail about the research and locations for open positions (PhD 08 and PhD13).

Please contact the local supervisory teams for more information.

For application, go to the procedure recruitment page.

PhD 01 - Documenting the upstream of refractories manufacturing

This PhD thesis will significantly improve LCA of refractory products by compiling a unique anonymized database of worldwide refractory raw materials. The project will also consider the use of indicators to promote sustainable production processes from cradle to gate. The PhD project will contribute to a better definition of resource depletion by taking into account the transfer of materials from the geosphere to the anthroposphere and the fate of refractory materials at end-of-life (dissipation, recycling, abandon, etc.).

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between GEMME-Liege (Belgium) and RHIM-Leoben (Austria)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 01 Position (application closed)

PhD 02 - Comparison between production routes

The aim of this PhD thesis is to build LCA models relevant for the industrial reality, including several manufacturing routes for refractories, and new developments in terms of recycling. The stay at the industrial partner will allow to obtain inventory data on real production chains, for several products types (bricks and big blocs, castable and mortar, preshaped products). Based on the results eco-design strategies will be proposed.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between CHEMENG-Liege (Belgium) and St-GOBAIN-Cavaillon (France)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 02 Position  (application closed)

PhD 03 - Enhanced value in use of refractories in industrial systems, by developing LCA methodologies

The aim of this PhD thesis is to develop environmental assessment methodologies which calculate (quantitatively) the effect of design and material choices on the refractory environmental footprint. Two types of vessels will be investigated: ladle and tundish.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between CHEMENG-Liege (Belgium) and TATASTEEL-IJmuiden (Netherlands)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 03 Position  (application closed)

PhD 04 - Use of metallurgical residues as potential raw materials for high performance refractory castables

Extractive metallurgy processes are not suitable for lower-grade resources with impurities. Therefore, this PhD study aims to advance metal-extraction and recovery methods of slags from metallurgical processes. In order to produce nearly zero-waste results, it focuses on upcycling the residual matrices into engineered refractory products, namely alternative calcium aluminate binders and alumina-spinel castables for refractory linings. In order to test the engineered refractory materials in industrial conditions, assessment of thermomechanical behaviour of the refractory castables in service conditions is considered.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between RWTH-Aachen (Germany) and CALDERYS-Neuwied (Germany)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 04 Position (application closed)

PhD 05 - Characterization of refractory material properties after usage for recyclability determination

For most refractory applications, materials are often pre-fired at low temperature in comparison to industrial application conditions. Key thermal and mechanical properties will thus dramatically change after a first usage. For example, the components used in continuous casting process are presently 100% based on virgin raw materials because of the extreme service conditions and safety issues. This work will provide a deep analysis of specific property variations after usage in comparison to properties as new to qualify the recyclability after one or more usage cycle.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between IRCER-Limoges (France) and VESUVIUS-Ghlin (Belgium)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 05 Position  (application closed)

PhD 06 - Microstructure design of refractory castables for in use thermomechanical properties optimization

Investigate different model refractory castables linked to direct iron reduction by hydrogen. Considering White Fuse Alumina (instead of Tabular Alumina) with potential to be fused using green electricity in Europe (Austria, Germany). Targeting high purity silica-free systems with good potential resistance in hydrogen atmospheres. Playing with stoichiometry of pre-formed or in situ spinel grains. Considering different degree of pre-mullitization of Andalusite grains. Understanding to which extend the thermal shock resistance can be optimized through microstructural fine-tuning.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between IRCER-Limoges (France) and IMERYS-Vaulx-Milieu (France)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 06 Position  (application closed)

PhD 07 - Microstructure dependence of local strain through in situ micromechanical investigations

Investigate micromechanical behaviour within heterogeneous microstructures which can be used to optimise thermal shock behaviour of refractory materials. Introducing voluntarily a network of microcracks within the initial material microstructure that promotes energy dissipating mechanisms during loading, and which increases the overall material strain while limiting crack extension. SEM observations, including electron back scattered diffraction (EBSD), will be conducted on sample during mechanical loading as well as in situ local strain measurements by µLaue diffraction.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between PIMM-Paris (France) and ELKEM-Kristiansand (Norway)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 07 Position  (application closed)

PhD 08 - Discrete Element Method to support microstructure design of refractories

To conduct developments of numerical tools based on the discrete element method (DEM) for investigation of the relationships between microstructure and thermomechanical properties of model materials. These developments include debounding, thermomechanical coupling, crack-closure and anisotropic behaviours. These developments will lead to a “virtual numerical lab” able to provide tensile, dilatometry, fracture mechanics or thermal shock virtual tests for virtual characterizations. The related developments will be integrated to the free DEM software GranOO.

PhD 09 - Influence of microstructure of refractory materials on the macroscopic mechanical behaviour

Materials selected from the partner institutions will be characterised with mechanical testing including Young’s modulus determination with the impulse excitation technique, creep under compression and Mode I wedge splitting testing. Creep samples with various achieved creep strains will be forwarded to BAM to investigate changes in the microstructure and pore size as well as pore size distribution during creep. Finally, conclusions on the macroscopic behaviour will be drawn with the help of large-scale facilities and X-CT.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between MUL-Loeben (Austria) and SAFRAN-Colombes (France)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 09 Position (application closed)

PhD 10 - Microstructural impact on refractory materials during In situ testing by means of X-Ray imaging methods

The microstructure of refractory materials are undergoing changes during its operation leading to degradation. The microstructure, like pores and microcracks, strongly affect the materials parameters, such as thermal conductivity, elasticity, or mechanical strength. The microstructure is studied via X-Ray based imaging methods, namely X-Ray computed tomography as well as X-Ray based refraction radiography and tomography to gain knowledge about the pore structure and crack propagation after or while being in an operation-like environment in terms of heat and load.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between BAM-Berlin (Germany) and SAFRAN-Colombes (France)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 10 Position  (application closed)

PhD 11 - Influence of H2 containing atmospheres on the thermo-mechanical behaviour of refractories

To understand and quantify the effect of long-term exposure to H2 containing atmospheres at elevated temperatures on the macroscopic thermomechanical behaviour of selected refractories. Creep and mode I fracture behaviour and Young’s modulus will be investigated under oxygen atmosphere prior and after H2 exposure. Furthermore, Fact Sage calculations and mineralogical investigations will be carried out to understand the changes.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between MUL-Leoben (Austria) and TATASTEEL-IJmuiden (Netherlands)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 11 Position (application closed)

PhD 12 - Corrosion and changes of microstructure and thermal properties of refractory castables in H2 combustion atmospheres

Particular components of furnace linings and refractory microstructure will be identified in regard of their corrosion behaviour in atmospheres with enhanced H2 amount. Reduction of refractory constituents and components will be observed. FactSage calculations of refractory materials and various combustion atmospheres are of interest and will be helpful tool to work such corrosion behaviour. Furthermore, mechanical HT performance will be observed by HMOR, Young’s Modulus and DIC measurements.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between RWTH-Aachen (Germany) and RHIM-Leoben (Austria)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 12 Position (application closed)

PhD 13 - Performance prediction and reusability/recyclability assessment of refractory materials using online sensoring, machine learning and digital decision-making tools

Targeting to reuse refractory components from continuous casting process in safe condition, thermo-chemico-mechanical properties need to be estimated with non-destructive testing. Pertinent monitoring approach must be developed, first at laboratory scale, before field implementation. Machine learning methods will be evaluated to select the most viable for predicting thermo-chemical/mechanical properties of refractories based on non-destructive testing values.

PhD 14 - Smart Factory: Predicting thermal behaviour of steel ladles with advanced digital methods

To develop a method for computing the temperatures inside the ladle wall and lining from measured data. This method will be generic in the sense that it will be applicable to different kinds of ladles. The method will be capable of predicting the state of a ladle, considering the degradation of the refractory lining (PhD13). The method will be validated with data from a steel plant. Furthermore, a sensor concept to collect meaningful, real-time data to track the thermal state of a ladle will be proposed.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between TUW-Wien (Austria) and ARCELORMITTAL-Maizières-lès-Metz (France)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 14 Position  (application closed)

PhD 15 - Smart Factory: Enhancing energy efficiency in steel making through advanced digital technologies

One of the main levers to improve the energy efficiency of steel-making processes is to optimize the ladle logistics with regard to heat losses and the remaining useful lifetime of the refractory lining. An optimization model for managing the ladles is to be developed. To enable application of this optimization model in plant operation, an information management approach is to be set up that brings together information from PhD13, PhD14 as well as from the process itself. The impact of optimizing the ladle logistics is to be evaluated.

A 36 Months PhD starting in October 2022 and supervised between TUW-Wien (Austria) and TATASTEEL-IJmuiden (Netherlands)

MORE INFORMATION about this Specific PhD 15 Position (application closed)



What can you learn from Diana?

Diana VITIELLO was the PhD1 within ATHOR ( She has defended her PhD at the University of Limoges in April 2021. She is now R&D and Laboratory Manager at IFB REFRACTORIES (France) LinkedIn

What can you learn from Robert?

Robert KACZMAREK was the PhD2 within ATHOR ( He has defended his PhD at the University of Limoges in December 2021. He is now Global R&D Trainee at RHI Magnesita (Austria). LinkedIn

What can you learn from Farid?

Farid ASADI was the PhD3 within ATHOR ( He has defended his PhD at the University of Limoges in June 2021. He is now Post-Doctoral Researcher at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech (France). LinkedIn

What can you learn from Camille?

Camille REYNAERT was the PhD4 within ATHOR ( Her PhD Defense will come soon at the University of Krakow. She is now Research Engineer at VESUVIUS (Belgium). LinkedIn

What can you learn from Ilona?

Ilona KIELIBA was the PhD5 within ATHOR ( Her PhD Defense will come soon at the RWTH University of Aachen. She is now Research and Development Engineer at Nemak (Poland). LinkedIn

What can you learn from Lucas?

Lucas TEIXEIRA was the PhD9 within ATHOR ( His PhD Defense will come soon at the University of Orléans. He is now Senior Simulation Engineer at at RHI Magnesita (Austria). LinkedIn

What can you learn from Soheil?

Soheil SAMADI was the PhD14 within ATHOR ( He has defended his PhD at the University of Leoben in December 2021. He is now Software Development Engineer at Bosch (Austria). LinkedIn