ASTRI Scholarship – Optimisation of solar thermal system under material constraints


A scholarship is available for a full-time student, either domestic or international, to undertake studies in the topic of concentrating solar thermal (CST/CSP) system modelling and optimisation.

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 constraintson the optimal design is something has not yet been well studied. Filling that gap is the intention of this project.

A student working on this topic will get broad exposure to all aspects of CSP system design, from components to operating strategy to optimisation to material issues such as fatigue and creep. It is expected that the main focus of the project will relate to CSP for the production of electricity. ANU participates in a major Australian program on CSP research, titled ASTRI (Australian Solar Thermal Research Inititative). This project is paid for from that ASTRI program, and it will be expected that work undertaken in this project will maintain a strong relevance to that program. ASTRI is considering systems incorporating PCM storage, sCO2 power cycles and both particle receivers andliquid sodium receivers, and will be working towards development of a demonstration plant design over the period of this project.

Background literature can be found at the position description at:


The position suits a candidate from a chemical engineering, systems engineering or mechanical engineering background. Desired skills include: thermodynamics, heat transfer, computational mechanics, numerical methods, computer programming in common languages (e.g. Python, C, C++; experience with Modelica beneficial but not essential), software engineering, and the ability to analyse complex mathematical problems. Essential are strong analytical, interpretive and problem-solving skills, the ability to exercise sound independent judgement with a high level of self-motivation, and proficiency in technical (written and oral) English.

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