Dr Heinrich Badenhorst


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Hein Badenhorst is currently a lecturer and researcher in the School of CEAS at the University of Manchester, where his research is focused on thermo-chemical energy storage and the development of novel graphitic materials for nuclear and other energy applications.

He graduated top of his class in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, with a subsequent Honours degree in Advanced Process Control. He was involved in the design and commissioning of control systems for a wide variety of petrochemical process plants located in the UK, USA, EU and Asia. He has substantial experience in the modelling and non-linear optimization of a diverse range of chemical unit operations. Following his industrial work he completed a Ph.D. by modelling the oxidation behaviour of nuclear graphite. During this time he also conducted research into oxidation inhibition of electrodes in electric arc furnaces at the graphite manufacturer GrafTech International. He then moved on to become a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, where his research group was focused on the application of carbon materials in solar energy storage and solar desalination.

The dynamic modelling of an energy storage process is illustrated below. The solid wax is heated evenly from the left hand side resulting in a phase transition. However, due to the effect of buoyancy the melt front does not propagate linearly into the material and instead the upper region of the store is preferentially utilized. To optimize the performance, a composite was developed using graphite nano-platelets and pressed graphite sheets. 

 Melting Wax CompositeDynamic simulation of wax melting

In order to desalinate brackish or seawater sources in remote areas which lack infrastructure, a source of high temperature, thermal energy is needed. For this purpose the low cost, off-grid, solar concentrator shown below was developed. By combining concentrated solar energy with a carbon black suspension, vacuum flash evaporation can be used to produce clean, drinkable water in impoverished communities.

Solar Concentrator

External positions

Lecturer, University of Pretoria

1 Jul 201231 Jan 2018

Senior Researcher, GrafTech International

1 Jan 201130 Jun 2012

Control Engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies

1 Jan 200531 Dec 2007

Process Engineer, Sasol Technology Limited

1 Jan 200331 Dec 2004


  • Energy Storage, Graphite, Nuclear Materials, Solid State Kinetics

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2011 - Doctor of Engineering, Modelling the mechanisms that govern the oxidation of graphite, University of Pretoria (2008 - 2010)
  • 2004 - Master of Engineering, Control Engineering , University of Pretoria (2004)
  • 2002 - Bachelor of Engineering, Chemical Engineering, University of Pretoria (1999 - 2002)

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