Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute (ASTRI) - Postgraduate Research Scholarship - Heliostat Project

Applications open
17 March 2020
Applications close
31 October 2020
Payment per year
$10,000 per annum top up scholarship - conditional upon securing a RTPS scholarship valued at $28,092 per annum
3 years
Postgraduate Research
Australian Citizens
Australian Permanent Residents
New Zealand Citizens
Permanent Humanitarian Visa Holders
Type of Scholarship
Available In
Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Available To

The Project

Heliostats are arranged in staggered rows surrounding a central tower to maximise the efficiency of thermal energy collected at the receiver. The aerodynamic effects of vortex shedding and wake interference in a heliostat field deviate significantly from the incoming ABL turbulence on a single heliostat, depending on the arrangement of the field and the spacing between the heliostats. The aim of this project is to develop a detailed understanding of the effect of field arrangement on the dynamic wind loads on heliostats. This is to be achieved through the design of a heliostat field model and the measurement of the wind loads on individual heliostats in wind tunnel experiments. Reduction of the dynamic wind loads on heliostats in different rows of a field due to vortex-induced vibrations from upstream heliostat vortex shedding and turbulence in the atmospheric boundary layer provides an opportunity to reduce the cost of the wind-sensitive heliostat components.

The heliostat wind load and aerodynamics research group aims to develop the understanding of the turbulence within the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) through experimental measurements in a large-scale wind tunnel at the University of Adelaide. Innovative techniques for characterisation of the flow-induced aerodynamic loading on heliostats has been an ongoing research activity of the heliostat technology development stream of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute (ASTRI) since its inception in 2013. The focus of the heliostat aerodynamics project is to improve the design methods for wind load predictions and reduce the capital cost of manufacturing the heliostat components for commercial projects in the concentrating solar thermal industry. ASTRI is funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Further information is available at

The School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide was ranked in the top 100 of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in 2019. The Centre for Energy Technology (CET) are internationally recognised for their leading research into clean energy technologies and practices that reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency and decrease the cost of energy. The CET is one of South Australia’s fastest-growing research groups working to transition our society to renewable energy, including a contribution to solar thermal energy research in ASTRI. Further details on the heliostat wind load and aerodynamics research group, publications, experimental facilities and data can be found here

Selection Criteria:


Eligible candidates must:

  • Have completed a Bachelor of degree with a 1st class Honours, or a Masters degree that contains a significant (and relevant) research component with equivalent academic performance
  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide.
  • Applicants will be required to successfully secure a Research Training Program Scholarship in the major domestic scholarship-funding round, which will open on September 1, 2020. 
  • Be assessed by the Adelaide Graduate Centre as meeting all conditions for admission to the Doctoral program. For more information about the entry requirements for Higher Degrees by Research at the University of Adelaide, please visit the Adelaide Graduate Centre’s website.
  • Be living in, or able to relocate to, South Australia for the duration of the scholarship
  • Not hold a qualification at the same or at a higher level than the research higher degree program you are undertaking
  • Not be receiving a living allowance award, scholarship or salary providing a benefit greater than 75% of the RTP Scholarship living allowance rate to undertake the research higher degree program
  • Students applying for this scholarship should plan for a start date of no later than January 2021


  • Applicants with strong experimental and numerical skills in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, particularly in wind tunnel experiments or finite element analysis will be considered favourably.
  • Excellent students who hold a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering or a double degree with Civil Engineering would be especially suitable and encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants with well-developed written and verbal communication skills will be considered favourably.

Remuneration and additional benefits:

A top-up scholarship of $ 10,000 per annum for three years for a Doctor of Philosophy.

This top-up scholarship will be provided in addition to the Research Training Program Scholarship valued at $28,092 per annum (tax free)

Access to authorised travel, tailored professional development training and research project funds will also be available.

How to apply

Please address the eligibility criteria and email a copy of your CV and a cover letter explaining why you are interested in applying for this scholarship to

For a confidential discussion regarding this position, contact:

Matthew Emes

School of Mechanical Engineering

P: +61 (0) 831 31394


Your faculty’s broader role

The Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences is a thriving centre of learning, teaching and research in a vast range of engineering disciplines, computer science - including machine learning - and high-level mathematics. Many of its academic staff are work leaders in their fields and graduates are highly regarded by employers.

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