Evaluating the benefits of ultra-low emission wood heaters

Evaluating the potential air quality, carbon, health, and economic gains from moving from standard to ultra-low emission domestic wood heaters

Degree type


Closing date

22 November 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore


$28,597pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Wood burning is a popular choice for home heating in Tasmania. The consequence is unacceptably high concentrations of air pollution during the colder months in many regions of the state, which has been clearly associated with increased rates of mortality, heart and lung diseases. Newer design ultra-low emissions (ULE) wood burning heaters could potentially offer a solution for regions where wood is a readily available cheaper heating option.

Several ULE heaters are commercially available in other countries (eg New Zealand), but have not had uptake in Australia, where heater standards are not as stringent, and there is scepticism about ULE performance with hardwoods (like eucalypts) typically burnt in Australia, compared with softwood timber (like conifers) that are typically burnt in Europe, North America and New Zealand.

This inter- disciplinary program of work will use the emissions testing facility being constructed at the University to evaluate how ultra-low emission (ULE) wood heaters perform when burning Australian hardwoods. It will apply emissions data to model potential reduction in air pollution by region, health outcomes and economic gains. And it will characterise policy options for addressing this avoidable cause of ill health in the community.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Fay Johnston


The scholarship supporting this project provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years;
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000;
  • a tuition fee scholarship for up to 4 years (successful domestic applicants will be awarded an RTP Fees Offset and successful international applicants will be awarded a University of Tasmania Fees Offset)

The scholarship supporting this project is funded by the University of Tasmania and the Australian Government through the Research Training Program.


The project is open to domestic (Australia and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from International applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the PhD minimum entry requirements.

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Statistical modelling, air quality science and engineering, epidemiology, health economics, carbon accounting

Selection Criteria

The project/scholarship is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Applicants  for this project/scholarship must have a strong background in at least one of the areas below:

  • Advanced statistical modelling, health impact assessments, or economic modelling
  • Air pollution measurement, atmospheric sciences or environmental engineering

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Fay Johnston, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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