Professor John L Provis

Professor John L Provis

BE(Hons), BSc, PhD, CEng, MIChemE
Professor of Cement Materials Science and Engineering

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Sir Robert Hadfield Building
Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5490
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5943


John Provis joined the Department in 2012 with a Chair in Cement Materials Science and Engineering. He took a combined BE(Hons)/BSc in Chemical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from the University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2002, followed by a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Melbourne in 2006. From 2006 to May 2012 he was research fellow then senior research fellow, manager (2006-8) and leader (2009-12) of the Geopolymer and Minerals Processing Group and holder of APD and DORA fellowships, in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, before joining the University of Sheffield.

John was awarded the 2013 RILEM Robert L’Hermite Medal “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the research and development of geopolymers and other construction materials”, and holds funding from the European Research Council (Starting Grant “GeopolyConc”), as well as UK Research Councils, industry, and international sources. He is Chair of RILEM Technical Committee 247-DTA, and Associate Editor of the leading journals Cement and Concrete Research and Materials and Structures.

Research interests

His research centres on the development, characterisation and exploitation of advanced and non-traditional cement and concrete technology. Many projects involve alkali-activated and geopolymer binders, for use in construction, infrastructure and waste immobilisation applications. The range of topics covered include:-

  • Construction materials synthesis and testing
    1. Geopolymers – chemical and engineering properties
    2. Chemistry of alkali aluminosilicate gels
    3. Interactions with the environment (durability, fire testing)
    4. Other alkali-activated and Portland cement-hybrid concrete systems
    5. Rheology control
  • Waste immobilisation
    1. Nuclear wastes
    2. Heavy metals
  • Silica chemistry in complex aqueous environments
    1. Speciation and electrolyte solution chemistry
  • Hydrometallurgy
    1. Application of reaction engineering techniques
    2. Interactions involving silica (aqueous and surfaces) and gold
  • Ion exchange equilibrium modelling

Key projects and research impacts

  • Durability analysis and standardisation of alkali-activated cements and concretes, including leadership of RILEM TC 247-DTA
  • Local structural analysis of aluminosilicates via advanced beamline techniques, leading to the first detailed nanoscale understanding of the chemistry of geopolymer binders, and to the availability of novel tools and methodologies for nanostructural analysis
  • Development and characterisation of novel cements and concretes, including collaboration with leading producers of geopolymer cement and concrete nationally and internationally

Professional activities and recognition

  • Senior Member of RILEM

    1. Secretary, Technical Committee 224-AAM (2009-2012)
    2. Member, Technical Committee 238-SCM (2011-)
    3. Chair, Technical Committee 247-DTA (2012-)

  • Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers; Chartered Engineer
  • Member of the American Ceramic Society
  • Associate Editor of Cement and Concrete Research
  • Associate Editor of Materials & Structures
  • Editorial Board of Journal of Sustainable Cement-Based Materials
  • Editorial Board of ISRN Materials Science
  • RILEM Robert L’Hermite Medal 2013 – awarded annually to the best researcher under 40 years of age, in the areas of construction materials, systems and structures
  • Australian Research Council DORA Award, 2012
  • Brian Robinson Fellowship (Banksia Foundation, Australia), 2009
  • Australian Research Council APD fellowship, 2008-2011
  • Fulbright Scholar to the USA, 2004-5
  • Peer Review Advisory Board, Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Reviewer for more than 70 international journals, and grant funding agencies in more than 10 nations

Key publications


  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. (Editors), Alkali-Activated Materials: State-of-the-Art Report, RILEM TC 224-AAM. Springer/RILEM, Dordrecht, 2014
  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. (Editors), Geopolymers: Structure, Processing, Properties and Industrial Applications, Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, UK, 2009.

Journal articles

  • Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L. "Durability of alkali-activated materials: progress and perspectives," Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 2014: in press.
  • Provis, J.L.; Bernal, S.A. "Geopolymers and related alkali-activated materials," Annual Review of Materials Research, 2014: in press, DOI 10.1146/annurev-matsci-070813-113515.
  • Bernal, S.A.; San Nicolas, R.; Myers, R.J.; Mejía de Gutiérrez, R.; Puertas, F.; van Deventer, J.S.J.; Provis, J.L. "MgO content of slag controls phase evolution and structural changes induced by accelerated carbonation in alkali-activated binders," Cement and Concrete Research, 2014, in press, DOI 10.1016/j.cemconres.2013.12.003.
  • Provis, J.L. “Geopolymers and other alkali activated materials - Why, how, and what?” Materials and Structures, 2014, in press, DOI 10.1617/s11527-013-0211-5. [Robert L’Hermite Award lecture commemorative article]
  • Ismail, I.; Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L.; San Nicolas, R.; Hamdan, S.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Modification of phase evolution in alkali-activated blast furnace slag by the incorporation of fly ash,” Cement and Concrete Composites, 2014, 45, 125-135.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L.; Walkley, B.; San Nicolas, R.; Gehman, J.D.; Brice, D.G.; Kilcullen, A.R.; Duxson, P.; Van Deventer, J.S.J. “Gel nanostructure in alkali-activated binders based on slag and fly ash, and effects of accelerated carbonation,” Cement and Concrete Research, 2013, 53, 127-144.
  • White, C.E.; Kearley, G.J.; Provis, J.L.; Riley, D.P. “Structure of kaolinite and influence of stacking faults: Reconciling theory and experiment using inelastic neutron scattering analysis,” Journal of Chemical Physics, 2013, 138(19), 194501 (7 pp).
  • Myers, R.J.; Bernal, S.A.; San Nicolas, R.; Provis, J.L. “Generalized structural description of calcium-sodium aluminosilicate hydrate gels: the crosslinked substituted tobermorite model,” Langmuir, 2013, 29(17), 5294-5306.
  • White, C.E.; Provis, J.L.; Bloomer, B.; Henson, N.J.; Page, K. “In situ X-ray pair distribution function analysis of geopolymer gel nanostructure formation kinetics,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2013, 15(22), 8573-8582.
  • Mohammadnejad, S.; Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Reduction of gold(III) chloride to gold(0) on silicate surfaces,” Journal of Colloid & Interface Science, 2013, 389: 282-289.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Provis, J.L.; Brice, D.G.; Kilcullen, A.; Duxson, P.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Accelerated carbonation testing of alkali-activated binders significantly underestimates service life: The role of pore solution chemistry,” Cement & Concrete Research, 2012, 42(10): 1317-1326.
  • Provis, J.L.; Myers, R.J.; White, C.E.; Rose, V.; van Deventer, J.S.J., X-ray microtomography shows pore structure and tortuosity in alkali-activated binders, Cement and Concrete Research, 2012, 42(6), 855-864.
  • Feng, D.; Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Thermal activation of albite for the synthesis of one-part mix geopolymers, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 2012, 95(2), 565-572.
  • van Deventer, J.S.J.; Provis, J.L.; Duxson, P., Technical and commercial progress in the adoption of geopolymer cement, Minerals Engineering, 2012, 29, 89-104.
  • White, C.E.; Provis, J.L.; Proffen, Th.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Molecular mechanisms responsible for the structural changes occurring during geopolymerization: Multiscale simulation, AIChE Journal, 2012, 58(7), 2241-2253.
  • Provis, J.L.; Rose, V.; Winarski, R.P.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Hard X-ray nanotomography of amorphous aluminosilicate cements”, Scripta Materialia, 2011, 65(4), 316-319.
  • Juenger, M.C.G.; Winnefeld, F.; Provis, J.L.; Ideker, J., Advances in alternative cementitious binders, Cement and Concrete Research, 2011, 41(12), 1232-1243.
  • Bernal, S.A.; Mejía de Gutierrez, R.; Pedraza, A.L.; Provis, J.L.; Rodríguez, E.D.; Delvasto, S. “Effect of binder content on the performance of alkali-activated slag concretes,” Cement and Concrete Research, 2011, 41(1), 1-8.
  • White, C.E.; Provis, J.L.; Proffen, T.; Riley, D.P.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Combining density functional theory (DFT) and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis to solve the structure of metastable materials: the case of metakaolin.” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2010, 12(13), 3239-3245.
  • Lloyd, R.R.; Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J. “Pore solution composition and alkali diffusion in inorganic polymer cement.” Cement and Concrete Research, 2010, 40(9), 1386-1392.
  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Reaction engineering in metallurgical processing, Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2009, DOI 10.1002/14356007.n22_n01.
  • Lloyd, R.R.; Provis, J.L.; Smeaton, K.J.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Spatial distribution of pores in fly ash-based inorganic polymer gels visualised by Wood’s metal intrusion, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 2009, 126(1-2), 32-39.
  • Rees, C.A.; Provis, J.L.; Lukey, G.C.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared analysis of fly ash geopolymer gel ageing,Langmuir, 2007, 23(15), 8170-8179.
  • Provis, J.L.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Geopolymerisation kinetics. 2. Reaction kinetic modelling, Chemical Engineering Science, 2007, 62(9), 2318-2329.
  • Duxson, P.; Fernández-Jiménez, A.; Provis, J.L.; Lukey, G.C.; Palomo, A,; van Deventer, J.S.J., Geopolymer technology: The current state of the art, Journal of Materials Science, 2007, 42(9), 2917-2933.
  • Duxson, P; Provis, J.L.; Lukey, G.C.; Mallicoat, S. W.; Kriven, W.M., van Deventer, J.S.J., Understanding the relationship between geopolymer composition, microstructure and mechanical properties. Colloids and Surfaces A – Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 2005, 269 (1-3), 47-58.
  • Provis, J.L.; Lukey, G.C.; van Deventer, J.S.J., Do geopolymers actually contain nanocrystalline zeolites? - A reexamination of existing results, Chemistry of Materials, 2005, 17 (12), 3075-3085.

    Full publications list on Google Scholar or ResearcherID

Research group

Research fellow:
Susan Bernal

PhD students:
Florian Abraham (Geography, lead supervisor M. Watson; Nuclear futures and the politics of scale)
Mehul Chavda (lead supervisor H. Kinoshita; Phosphate-modified calcium aluminate cements)
Razie Hanafi (Controlling steel corrosion in alkali-activated concretes)
Alireza Kashani (University of Melbourne; Rheology of alkali-activated binders)
Xinyuan Ke (Chloride transport in alkali-activated concretes)
Andrew MacArthur (lead supervisor H. Kinoshita; Electrically accelerated leaching of cements wasteforms)
Neda Mobasher (lead supervisor H. Kinoshita; Barium-rich alkali-activated binders for sulphate-bearing nuclear waste immobilisation)
Sima Mohammadnejad (University of Melbourne; Gold-silica interactions in hydrometallurgy)
Rupert Myers (Modelling calcium-alkali aluminosilicate hydrate chemistry in cements)
Ross Peel (lead supervisor K. Whittle; Alternative nuclear fuels)
Becky Sanderson (Nuclear EngD with NNL; Future-proofing cement powder supply)
Diego Velandia (Civil & Structural Eng., lead supervisor C. Lynsdale; Sustainable concretes from local resources)
James Vigor (Moisture movement in cemented wasteforms)
Brant Walkley (University of Melbourne; Synthetic routes to pure geopolymer binders)
Sam Walling (Magnesium silicate-based cements)
Syet Li Yong (University of Melbourne; Surface and interface chemistry in geopolymers)

Research technician:

Oday Hussein

Research centres

Immobilisation Science Laboratory

Centre for Cement & Concrete