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.

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.

Background literature can be found at the position description at:


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.

Scholarships are open to international and domestic students who have been admitted for study into a PhD program through the normal application process. Applications need to be received through the College of Engineering and Computer Science PhD admission process and should nominate the academics listed above as the proposed supervisor. Please make sure to also speak with your proposed supervisor before applying.

Selection basis

Via the College merit based ranking

Funding source

Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI)


$26,682 per annum

Application date

Opening date: 1 Sep 2017
Closing date: 30 Sep 2017




Domestic or International


Updated:  1 September 2018/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing