Development of an advanced sodium receiver


Supervisory Chair


Research areas


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.

This PhD project will include modelling, prototyping and testing of receiver prototypes.   The modelling will build upon a strong toolset already developed at ANU for receiver design including simulation of internal and external heat transfer, geometric design, stress analysis, using MCRT, FVM and hydrodynamic modelling methods, including integration of these methods. However, a strong focus in this project will be on prototyping and testing, initially at laboratory scale using ANU’s high-flux solar simulator and adjacent sodium laboratory, and then on sun testing (scale contingent on funding). As well as optical and thermal design considerations, the research project will include practical design considerations of  the receiver fabrication material, including both selection of material (considering strength and corrosion issues) and manufacturing methods.  Opportunity exists within the project to collaborate with ANU’s industry partners with interest in high-temperature sodium receivers.

The PhD candidate will carry out this project as part of the ASTRI P12 Receiver Performance project. 


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.  In particular, the candidate must be willing to work in the sodium laboratory.  Sodium is a hazardous material.  The candidate will be mentored and trained for this experimental work.  Essential are strong analytical, interpretive and problem-solving skills together with the ability to exercise sound independent judgement with a high level of self-motivation. Proficient skills in technical English (written and oral) are mandatory.

General information for applicants can be found at

A three-year scholarship (starting from $26,682 per year) with tuition fee waiver will be offered.   Apply at preferably by 31 March 2017 to be eligible for a mid 2017 commencemnt. Notify Higher Degree Research team in CECS Student Services ( when you complete the online application.

Inquiries about this position should be sent to Dr Joe Coventry.


Background Literature

Pye J, Zheng M, Asselineau C-A, Coventry J. An exergy analysis of tubular solar-thermal receivers with different working fluids. In: 20th annual SolarPACES symposium. 2014. Beijing

Coventry J, Andraka C, Pye J, Blanco M, Fisher J. A review of sodium receiver technologies for central receiver solar power plants. Solar Energy 2015;122:749-762

Logie W, Asselineau C-A, Pye J, Coventry J. Temperature and Heat Flux Distributions in Sodium Receiver Tubes. In: Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference. 2015. Brisbane

Asselineau C-A, Corsi C, Pye J, Coventry J. Geometrical exploration of a Flux-Optimised Sodium Receiver through multi-objective optimisation. In: 22nd SolarPACES conference. 2016. Abu Dhabi

Logie W, Asselineau C-A, Pye J, Coventry J. Thermal Stress in Sodium Receiver Tubes. In: 22nd SolarPACES Conference. 2016. Abu Dhabi


sodium receiver; optimisation; concentrating solar thermal

Updated:  8 September 2015/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing