PhD Scholarship on Mass Timber Fire at the University of Queensland, Australia

PhD scholarship: Scientific basis for the use of fire-safe intumescent coatings used in mass timber structures


Supervisor – Dr Cristian Maluk Zedan

Engineering advances in the space of timber being used for construction of load-bearing assemblies has stimulated the design of timber structures where fire could be a problem. However, demonstrating and ensuring that the timber structure will perform appropriately during (and even after) a fire is a challenge. In the event of a fire, timber ignites and chars, resulting in an exothermic reaction that (1) may provide additional fuel to the fire and (2) result in a reduction of the load-bearing cross-section for structural timber elements. Consequently, timber structures must fulfil fire safety functional requirements to ensure structural integrity and stability during and after a fire.

Thin intumescent flame retardant (nano) coating, typically used in the steel industry, are thermally reactive materials that when exposed to heat swell to form a thick porous carbonaceous layer characterized by low density and low thermal conductivity. Usually, thin intumescent are applied to a few millimetres; swelling up to 100 times its original thickness.

This project will investigate and set the scientify/engineering grounds for understanding the fire performance and overall effectiveness for thin intumescent coatings and flame retardants that could be used in mass timber structures.

A working knowledge of fire engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, material science, or structural engineering would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

School of Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering at UQ was ranked 29th in the World and 2nd in Australia (NTU, 2019) and has consistently ranked in the top 50 in the QS World University Rankings. As a major part of the new Advanced Engineering Building, is the new and fully equipped structures and fire laboratory testing facility, which was supported through 2013 LIEF grant (LE130100089). The Fire Safety Engineering Research Group at UQ is at the forefront of fire engineering research and education in Australia. The team of four academics, including CI-Maluk who works in the areas of structural fire science and engineering research, and also in many other material science and generic fire safety research. Comprising 20+ PhD fire students, dedicated research and laboratory staff, the Fire Research Group actively engages with researchers in Australia and worldwide, as well as with industry, government, and other institutions for research and consultancy projects.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ), partner in this research project, delivers well recognised research and innovation in advanced materials with its Centre for Future Materials (formerly Centre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites) funded by the Queensland State Government with over $7 million infrastructure investment. Dr Pingan Song (co-supervisor based at USQ) has had 15+ years of research experience in materials science, especially polymer science (polymer blends and modification), and engineering (flame retardancy, mechanical reinforcement and toughening).


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

This scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia.


Enrolment statusNew students
Student typeDomestic students
Level of studyHigher Degree by Research
Study areaEngineering and Computing, Science and Mathematics
HDR funding typeLiving stipend scholarship
Scholarship valuePhD scholarship: Scientific basis for the use of fire-safe intumescent coatings used in mass timber structures
Scholarship durationThree years with the possibility of two 6-month extensions in approved circumstances
Opening date22 January 2021
Closing date8 February 2021

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