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PhD in Energy, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences (Generative Designs of Solar Tower Receivers)

This project is closed

The Cyprus Institute (CyI) is a non-profit research and educational institution with a strong scientific and technological orientation, emphasizing international collaborations, cross-disciplinary research, innovation, and post graduate education. CyI, through its established research centres, addresses challenging issues that are important at both the regional and international levels. Many of its research activities are being carried out in partnership with leading institutions in the respective thematic areas.

Within the context of the Towards Competitive, Reliable, Safe and Sustainable Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plants (TOPCSP) doctoral network funded by the Horizon-MSCA DN- 2021 call, we seek a talented Doctoral Researcher who will participate and contribute to the development of an open-source computational framework to automatically generate receiver designs fulfilling multiple objectives. The TOPCSP project is coordinated by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and participating countries are Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain.

The successful applicant will be based at the Graduate School of The Cyprus Institute and at The Energy, Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC) with secondments to Politecnico di Milano (academic) and John Cockerill (non-academic). He/she will be enrolled in the PhD program: Energy, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences. The degree awarding institution will be the The Cyprus Institute.

The Graduate School and the Research Center

The Graduate School was established in 2010 and is the educational arm of The Cyprus Institute. It is a fully accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education offering exclusively postgraduate programs. It maintains a small number of students that are fully integrated into the research activities of the institute. This provides the students with the opportunity to acquire hands-on training in the use of the latest methods and techniques, have access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and conduct research with internationally recognized research teams.

The Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre (EEWRC) was the first Research Centre of CyI. It comprises the Energy Division and the Water division. The Energy Division has attracted external funding of over €6m since 2010 from various national and European sources. The Division works in the areas of: Energy production from renewable energy sources and associated issues of energy storage and desalination; Energy planning, technoeconomic studies and policy issues; and Sustainability in the Built Environment with emphasis on energy efficiency.

Project Description

The goal of this doctoral thesis is, for a given heliostat field configuration, to develop computationally efficient generative design approaches to achieve multi-objective optimization of the receiver design for selected receiver types, such as external tubular receivers, cavity receivers, etc. For a specific receiver typology, the generative design approach to be developed should include the specification of the receiver shape as well as the detailed specification of the rest of the parameters that determine the thermal behavior of the receiver to achieve the desired multi-objective optimization. The core of this thesis is the development of a computational framework to automatically generate receiver designs, evaluate them against the multi-objectives to be achieved, and learn from the evaluations in order to improve the designs until a satisfactory design is achieved. In particular, the thesis work should explore the utilization of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence tools and techniques such as Generative Adversarial Networks, while exploring reinforcement learning algorithms for iteratively optimizing generative design. Once developed, the generative design computational framework will be applied to the design of a 130-kWth molten salt cavity receiver prototype specifically optimized for the heliostat field and tower that the Cyprus Institute has in its PROTEAS testing facility at Pentakomo, Cyprus.


Qualification requirements:

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in the fields of mechanical engineering, industrial technology engineering, energy engineering, physics, applied mathematics, computer science, and the like.
  • Master’s students in their final year may apply but the candidates must complete their degree before registration.
  • Excellent academic records in relevant fields.
  • Good communication and writing skills; ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Proficiency in oral and written English.
  • Proficient/experience in, at least, a programming language (desirable Python or C++).

Desirable but not needed:

  • Knowledge or experience in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.
  • Solid knowledge of heat transfer and applied thermodynamics

Eligibility criteria for the applicants

Mobility Rule: applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

Application Process

Applicants should refer to the CyI website under the PhD in Energy, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences Admissions section for additional information about the application process.

Kindly note that applications should be sent through the online application system of The Cyprus Institute Graduate School. When applying through the online application, in Step 2 of the application under the section ‘Scholarship or Financial Aid’, applicants should select ‘Specific PhD Project’ and they should enter the project reference code: GS-EAS-GDSTR-22-1 in order to be considered for the position.

Application Deadline:
 - May 1, 2023 (Regular Deadline)
 - July 3, 2023 (Late deadline-only for EU students who do not need to apply for a student visa) 

Starting Date: October, 2023

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Professor Manuel Jesus Blanco (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and  Asst. Prof. Michalis Nicolaou (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). For more information about postgraduate studies at The Cyprus Institute and admission requirements, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies of The Cyprus Institute at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at tel: +357 22208614.

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