The consortium comprises 10 beneficiaries (8 academic institutions and 2 companies) and 8 associated partners. Each doctoral candidate will have 1 or 2 PhD supervisors at the recruiting institution and a supervisor at the hosting organization during secondments.

PhD supervisors


Juan Valverde

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Ridha Harzallah

Ridha Harzallah

Ridha Harzallah: is R&D coordinator within the Solar Team. He is Mechanical Engineer and has a PhD in Material Science and Engineering in 2010 from the “Ecole des Mines de Paris”. He has a big experience in R&D, materials selection and manufactring, corrosion testing, molten salt behavior and coatings development. He is responsible for different R&D projects: SolarFocus, SOLAR PERFORM, SOLAR GNEXT…
He has also worked in Processes and Project Management in industry through the projects realized in CEMEF (France), SONACA and Euro Heat Pipes in Belgium. He was responsible for the R&D of new materials, process, surface and heat treatment for mechanical parts in railway (i-Trans Project), aeronautics (TAMBA project) and aerospace (Cwality Project).

Christian Raeder

Christian Raeder

Marco Bernardino

Gioele Di Marcoberardino

University of Brescia

 Gioele Di Marcoberardino is Assistant Professor of “Energy and Environmental Systems” at theDepartment of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Brescia since 2018. He graduated in Energy Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (2012) and he got his PhD in Energy Technology at Politecnico di Milano (2016). He’s been involved in national and FP-7 or H2020 European projects dealing with techno-economic assessment of energy conversion fuel cell based system (REFORCELL; FERRET; FLUIDCELL), hydrogen production with membrane reactor technology (BIONICO, MACBETH) as well as innovative closed power cycle for electricity production from concentrated solar plant (SCARABEUS, DESOLINATION). He was the dissemination manager of BIONICO. He’s author of more than 25 papers (h-index 14).

Paolo Iora

Paolo Iora

University of Brescia

Paolo Iora has been a full professor of “Energy and Environmental Systems” at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Brescia since June 2018. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Brescia (2000) and worked as a postgraduate student from December 2003 to April 2004 at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology of Imperial College (London), focusing on the development of dynamic simulation models for high temperature fuel cells. In 2005, he took his doctorate in Energetics, at the Politecnico di Milano. From January to April 2010, he was a visiting professor at the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working on the development of advanced hydrogen storage systems for PEMs. In September 2012, he was a visiting professor in the same Department, collaborating on energy policy for cogeneration plants and fossil-renewable hybrid plants. His research activities mainly focus on advanced systems for energy conversion and storage. He is the author of 47 papers published in peer review international journals, and numerous contributions presented in national and international conferences. He participated to several research projects funded by the European Union, Italian Government and private companies. Presently he is the UNIBS responsible for the EU projects DESOLINATION (H2020) and TOPCSP (MCSA).

Celia Sobrino

Celia Sobrino

UC3M. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Celia Sobrino is an associate professor in the Thermal and Fluids Engineering Department at UC3M. She received a doctorate in engineering in 2008 and held a postdoc position at TU Delft.
Her PhD thesis focused on the hydrodynamics of fluidized beds. During her PhD she spent 6 months at the University of British Columbia (Canada), working in the field of industrial turbulent fluidized beds. After the PhD she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at TU Delft in an EU project led by the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands related to biomass combustion.
Her current research lines are concentrating solar energy, thermal energy storage and heat transfer. She has supervised two PhD thesis and is currently supervising an industrial doctorate focused on 3D printed heat pipes and a PhD thesis on novel materials to be used under high temperature and extreme conditions, in collaboration with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering.

Antonio Acosta Iborra

Antonio Acosta-Iborra

UC3M. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Antonio Acosta-Iborra is full professor at the Department of Thermal and Fluids Engineering in UC3M. PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Organization from UC3M (2004). He has made two postdoctoral stays at the Department of Chemical Engineering of the University of Cambridge.
His research lines are high temperature thermal systems (e.g. receivers and heat exchangers) in concentrated solar power (CSP), fluidized beds, heat and mass transfer processes of industrial interest and their computational fluid dynamic (CFD) numerical simulation. In these research lines he has supervised 3 doctoral thesis and he is author or co-author of more than 40 papers published in high-impact factor journals indexed in JCR, and numerous contributions to international and national conferences and book chapters. He is also the inventor or co-inventor of several patents. He has participated in European research projects, Spanish research agency projects and regional research projects. He is currently the coordinator of a research project on tubular solar receivers, heat exchangers and thermal storage of Solar Power Towers granted by the Spanish government.

Cristina Prieto

Cristina Prieto

Universidad de Sevilla

Cristina Prieto is Associate Professor in the Energy Engineering Department at the University of Seville, Spain. Former director of R&D at Abengoa, she has been dedicated to developing thermal storage solutions for concentrated solar thermal applications. She has led more than 20 international R&D projects related to thermal storage. Cristina has more than 50 papers in journals of the citation index and holds 13 patents. She earned her PhD through research in molten salts storage solutions, and she has participated in the “SET-Integrated plan” of renewable technologies of the European Commission and acts regularly as external evaluator of the European Research Programmes


Samuel Mer


Samuel Mer is an associate professor at the University of Perpignan and has been working in the PROMES laboratory since 2019. He obtained his PhD in 2016 at LEGI – Grenoble and held a postdoc position at the Institute of Fluid Mechanics in Toulouse for three years. His main research interests concern two-phase flows and heat transfers in the context of CSP development. His work combines numerical and experimental approaches.


Manuel Blanco

The Cyprus Institute

Manuel Blanco has more than thirty-eight years of experience as a solar researcher and engineer, leading research teams, and advancing the state-of-the-art of Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technologies. Holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Applied Physics for the University of Massachusetts, USA, and a Doctor of Industrial Engineering degree for the University of Seville, Spain. Expert on Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Optics, and Modelling of Energy Systems. 

Full Professor (part-time) at the Cyprus Institute (CYI), Senior Scientist at the Institute of Solar Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and Technical Advisor of the startup company BlueSolar Filters. Also, Vice-Chair of the EU-SOLARIS European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) – a new instrument of the European Commission to articulate the support to European Concentrating Solar Thermal Large Research Infrastructures. 

Former holder of the European Research Area (ERA) Chair in Solar Thermal Technologies for the Eastern Mediterranean at CYI and former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee of SolarPACES, the Technology Collaboration Program of the International Energy Agency responsible for promoting the development and deployment of solar thermal power technologies and the solar-assisted manufacture of fuels and chemicals. Earlier, he served as Science Leader of the Solar Energy Systems Research Group of CSIRO (Australia’s National Research Agency); Director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI); General Coordinator of the EU-SOLARIS Preparatory Phase; Director of the Solar Thermal Energy Department of CENER, the National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain; Chair and Full Professor of the Engineering Department of the University of Texas at Brownsville; Director of the Plataforma Solar de Almería of CIEMAT; and Principal Investigator of the EC SOLGAS and SIREC solar tower technology R&D projects, which paved the way towards PS10, the first commercial solar tower power plant.

Author of numerous scientific publications and several patents, and participation in a senior capacity in many national and international expert groups and committees. Co-recipient of the City of Seville’s Energy Research Prize 2003, for outstanding contributions to the field of renewable energies and finalist of the René Descartes Prizes 2000 -the highest-level scientific distinctions awarded by the EC for collaborative research across scientific disciplines.

Marco Binotti

Marco Binotti

Politecnico Milano
Manfred Wirsum

Manfred Wirsum


Manfred Christian Wirsum is a full professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, specifically in the field of Energy Engineering. He is also the head of the Institute Of Power Plant Technology, Steam and Gas Turbines. The work at the institute specializes in research centered on turbomachines, hydrogen and emission-reduced energy conversion systems.
He has a diploma in engineering from the University of Stuttgart, a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin/Madison, and a Ph.D. and Habilitation from the University of Siegen. He worked for Alstom Power Switzerland for nearly ten years where he led the R&D department for 5 years. Since 2010, he has been with RTWH Aachen University. He is also an honorary professor at Tsinghua University Beijing and at Shenyang Institute of Engineering. 


Sergio Díaz is a PhD researcher in the DLR in association with RWTH Aachen. He finished his Bachelor and Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering both in University Carlos III of Madrid in 2021 and 2023. He began researching during his Bachelor’s Thesis in mathematical models for the analysis of thermal energy storage in solid means. After that, he received a national scholarship from the Education Ministry to research in the Thermal and Fluid Engineering department in University Carlos III of Madrid, what allowed him to release his first paper in the “Results in Engineering” journal and to participate in the CNIT12 conference. After that, he has been working in CAE engineering for a whole year, doing research and industrial activities of thermal and mechanical analysis of lighting devices.

The combined previous experience in solar power plants energy storage and the thermal analysis of optical devices constitutes the perfect background to develop his future doctoral activities, based on the study of advanced methods for heat flux measurement in cavity receivers.

Israel Aguilera is a dedicated PhD researcher in the TOPCSP Project at PROMES Laboratory, CNRS. With a focus on heat transfer and structural analysis, he contributes to the design of systems in Concentrated Solar Power plants, specifically in the study of two-phase flows in horizontally oriented direct steam generators. His previous work experience as a airframe stress engineer in Toulouse, along with their academic background in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Mechanics, provides him with a strong foundation in engineering principles. Israel is driven, analytical, and committed to excellence in their research.

Eylül Gedik is a Ph.D. researcher at RWTH Aachen University, Institute of Power Plant Technology, Steam and Gas Turbines (IKDG), working on the TOPCSP Project. She completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Middle East Technical University (METU), Türkiye. During her M.Sc., she worked on the EU H2020 SolarTwins Project as an early stage researcher at METU and closely collaborated with Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) on PV CSP hybridization to produce irrigation water using desalination and wastewater treatment. In the TOPCSP Project, she will work as DC3 on Task 1.3, and focus on developing modified steam cycle layouts to improve the flexibility and reduce the cost of the CSP plants’ power block.

Vahid Safari is a Ph.D. student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), where he is part of the TOPCSP Project team. His research focuses on the thermomechanical behavior of central solar receivers working with high temperature heat transfer fluids (HTF). He has a strong background in chemical engineering, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tehran, Iran. During his studies, he also worked on thermal energy storage (TES) systems and gained experience as a research and teaching assistant. You can find more information about his research background on his Google Scholar Profile.

Vladimir Naumov is a Ph.D. student in the TOPCSP Project at the University of Brescia. He is investigating the use of supercritical CO2 cycles for solar power applications. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Thermal power and Heat engineering from Moscow Power Engineering Institute (NRU MPEI). Vladimir worked as an engineer and a research assistant in the Department of Innovative Technologies for High-Tech Industries at NRU MPEI, focusing on perspective power cycles and their equipment. He is a co-author of several papers regarding innovative power cycles.

Hussein Al-Saaidi is a Ph.D. student at Universidad de Sevilla (USE), where he is part of the TOPCSP Project team. He will work as DC6 on Task 1.3 and focus on design and model a molten salt heating system to be used as a thermal reservoir and to test the thermal resistance in contact with the circulating molten salt. He holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Mechanical Engineering Thermal Power from Al-Nahran University in Iraq.
He worked as researcher and lecturer at many Universities and during his work he contributed to many international research projects which were focused on experimental and numerical simulation of heat transfer enhancement techniques, especially with thermal energy storage units and their computational fluid dynamics (CFD). He has strong background experiences worked with simulation programs such as SolidWorks, MATLAB and ANSYS Fluent.

Alejandro González is a dedicated PhD researcher at Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) working with the Energy Department on the TOPCSP Project. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Mechanics at the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), counting with more than three years of working experience, as Quality Control engineer at the Technic Institute of Materials and Construction (INTEMAC) and Research and Development (R&D) consultant at Automation and Robotics Consultants (CARSA). His work in this project will focus on the analysis and optimization of the most promising SOLAR FUELS PRODUCTION methods USING Concentrated Solar Power plants as primary heat source.

As a PhD student at The Cyprus Institute, Jorge is working in the Energy, Environment, and Water Research Center (EEWRC). His research is focused on implementing artificial intelligence techniques to automatically generate optimized receiver designs He graduated in Industrial Engineering from the University Carlos III of Madrid in 2020 and holds two master’s degrees from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Industrial Engineering and Energy Engineering.

Tom Todtenhaupt is a PhD student at the University of Seville in association with Virtualmech, a spin-off of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Seville. He has a Master’s degree in general Mechanical Engineering from the University of Technology Clausthal (Germany) and almost three years of experience working as a Research assistant at the Institute of Tribology and Energy Conversion Machinery Clausthal. The goal of his PhD project is to couple Reduced Order Models of the fluid flow in central tower receivers with ray tracing simulations of the solar field to optimize the design of the solar field and the receiver and to increase their performances.

María Asunción Palmero González is a Ph.D. student in the TOPCSP project hosted by John Cockerill, in the Solar and Thermal Storage department. She studied her B.Sc. degree in Energy Engineering at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and completed her M.Sc. degree in Industrial Technologies Engineering, also at UC3M. Parallel to her studies, during her M.Sc., she also worked in the field of medium and low voltage electricity distribution, carrying out projects and consultancy activities for big Spanish electricity distribution companies.

She is currently working as DC10, and the scope of her thesis is to develop a complete Life Cycle and Economic analysis of state-of-the-art CSP plants, along with its comparison with other renewable energy alternatives.

Members of the associated partners



Marcello Garavaglia



Andrés Núñez

Ciemat. Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas


Eduardo Zarza

europa media


Gabriella Lovasz



Patrick Hilger


Agencia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo Economco sostenible (ENEA)

Salvatore Sau



Egoitz San Miguel

Université Perpignan


Samuel Mer