UP engineering student among Green Talents Awardees

Posted on January 25, 2016

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) annually hosts the prestigious Green Talents International Forum for High Potential in Sustainable Development to promote the international exchange of innovative green ideas. Twenty-seven Green Talents awards were presented at the event, one of which went to Mr Mohammad Moghimi Ardekani, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria (UP).

Since its launch in 2009, the competition has become part of the BMBF’s framework programme on research on sustainable development. Entries are received from numerous countries and scientific disciplines and winners are recognised for their outstanding achievements in making societies across the globe more sustainable. This year's competition attracted over 550 applicants from more than 90 countries. From this pool of talented researchers, a jury of experts selected just 27 winners who came from a broad range of academic fields, ranging from urban planning, biodiversity, renewable energy and resource management, to the socio-political implications of new technologies. The jury praised Mr Ardekani’s disciplined commitment to his field and his diligent study of the intricacies of his complex topic.

Mr Ardekani, who originally hails from Iran, is conducting his PhD research in the SolarUP research group, which in turn forms part of the Thermoflow research group at the Clean Energy Research Centre at UP. He is currently working under the supervision of Prof Ken Craig, leader of the SolarUP research group, and Prof Joshua Meyer, Head of the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.  

The focus of Mr Ardekani’s research is on the optimisation of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants for maximum optical and thermal efficiencies and minimum generated electricity cost. He explains that solar energy plays a key role in the development of renewable clean energy sources, but that current failings and challenges in design have led to inefficiencies in solar power plants that produce electricity. Through his research, Mr Ardekani aims to determine how to make concentrated solar power (CSP) efficient and effective enough for mainstream use. He says that in order for a CSP system to work, solar energy needs to be transferred into the plant’s working fluid. This part of the process can often result in heat loss, affecting the thermal efficiency of the entire process. He hopes that, by reducing the costs incurred in the production of solar power, citizens and governments will become more inclined to invest in a cheaper source of renewable energy.

Over the course of his PhD studies at UP, Mr Ardekani has presented his research findings at various conferences, both nationally and internationally, published two ISI journal papers and collaborated in a webinar. He also recently submitted a research journal paper. Acknowledging the extensive work of German researchers in the field of solar energy, he firmly believes that the Green Talents initiative will be an invaluable way for him to hone his theories and practices. Going forward, Mr Ardekani will be collaborating with researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE – the largest solar energy research institute in Europe) and the DLR Institute of Solar Research. He expects to learn a lot from these collaborations: ‘I hope the knowledge of experts in those institutes will open my eyes to the hidden aspects of economic optimisation that have to be considered in order to harvest cheaper solar energy from CSP plants’.


- Author Ansa Heyl

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