PhD Scholarship in Concentrating Solar Thermal Research

Canberra, Australia
07 Sep 2017
End of advertisement period
30 Sep 2017
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Applications are invited for three PhD scholarships in the Solar Thermal Group, within the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University. The scholarships are funded under the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI).

Link to position details:

Value and duration: The scholarships start at A$26,682 per annum for up to 3.5 years.


  • Scholarships are open to international and domestic students
  • Recipients of the stipends must also be successful with admission to the ANU PhD program

How to apply and further information.

  • Apply by 30 September 2017 through the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science graduate research admissions process:
  • This involves contacting and securing support from the potential supervisor (listed below), which should be done in advance of submission.  The relevant scholarship can be nominated during the admissions process.

About us

Solar energy research at the ANU has a 40+ year tradition. During this time, the ANU Solar Thermal Group has established its position as one of the leading research centres in Australia and internationally. Its present research portfolio includes diverse renewable energy applications with focus on solar thermal energy, and related basic technology research areas such as thermal, chemical and optical sciences:

The three PhD positions

1. ASTRI Scholarship - Optical-structural design of heliostats.

The research proposed in this PhD project relates to optical and structural design of heliostats, and the nexus between optical and structural design.  In this project, the objective is to develop improved methods of structural design of heliostats, to achieve the best trade-off of annual optical performance (under realistic gravity and wind loads) and low cost. The position suits a candidate from a mechanical / structural engineering background.  Desired skills include: structural modelling skills using finite element analysis software, experience in ray optics, programming ability in common languages (e.g. Python, C, C++) and the ability to analyse complex mathematical problems. More details at:

Further information: Dr Joe Coventry;

2. ASTRI Scholarship – Development of an advanced sodium receiver

The Solar Thermal Group at ANU is developing advanced, high-temperature receiver concepts making use of sodium as the heat transfer fluid. Present research activities on this topic are focussed on a) geometric optimisation of sodium receivers to maximise minimise thermal losses and tailor radiation flux profile and b) understanding of flux limits, primarily due to thermally induced stresses in the containment materials. Based on the experience from this work, several novel sodium receiver concepts have been proposed. This PhD topic will focus on bringing together these ideas, along with modern fabrication methods such as additive manufacturing and diffusion welding, to develop a preferred advanced sodium receiver concept for prototyping and testing. The position suits a candidate from a mechanical / thermal engineering background.  Desired skills include: heat transfer and thermo-mechanical modelling (e.g. computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis), ray optics, programming ability in common languages (e.g. Python, C, C++) and aptitude for experimental data analysis & interpretation. More details at:

Further information: Dr Joe Coventry;

3. ASTRI Scholarship – Optimisation of solar thermal system under material constraints

As CSP works to reduce its overall cost, systems are sought that capture and store energy at increased temperatures using more challenging materials and more challenging processes, and these systems will have to push even harder against the various constraints imposed by materials, optics, heat transfer and thermodynamics. In this project, it is proposed to implement system-level models of CSP systems in a way that explicitly evaluates these constraints, and allows us to use high-performance computing to optimise system designs within those constraints, with the full range of annual variations in system behaviour included in the model. The highly dynamic nature of CSP systems with cloudy conditions and the day/night cycle and the challenges of modelling the entire system through such conditions, mean that accurately calculating the impact of materials constraints on the optimal design is something has not yet been well studied. Filling that gap is the intention of this project. More details at:

Further information: Dr John Pye;