Get to know your Academics – Heinrich Badenhorst
Speciality: Carbon Materials
Can you please describe your research, for the layman, in ten sentences or less?
Carbon is an amazing material, think of charcoal compared to diamond compared to graphite: all three pure carbon, all three completely different.
Our group tries to tailor the properties of carbon materials for applications in renewable energy storage and nuclear energy. We look at the storage of thermal energy as latent heat and as the heat of reaction. Graphene is a special form of carbon with some very unique properties, such as a thermal conductivity of more than ten times greater than the best metal. This makes it great for getting heat in and out of storage devices. In next generation nuclear reactors graphite makes the reactor fail-safe, if the reactor temperature starts to runaway the graphite slows down the reaction thereby avoiding a meltdown. Nuclear graphite has an exceedingly complex structure, which requires optimization to prolong reactor lifetimes.
What first inspired your interests in Chemical Engineering?
When I was in school I had a particularly inspiring science teacher who supported me to get my home laboratory going. I bought a “101 science experiments” kit, did every last one and it grew from there.
Where did you attend University?
University of Pretoria, South Africa.
What’s your favourite part about your job here at Manchester?
I think there are two really great things, first is the research. We get to work on materials that can revolutionize the way in which energy is generated and used, potentially taking us into a new era where energy supply is fully sustainable. The second is meeting new, eager students who enjoy Chemical Engineering. There is nothing more inspiring than working with passionate and enthusiastic young minds interested in improving the world around them.
What do you do outside of work? Interests and hobbies?
My wife and I recently added two children to our lives so that takes up 99% of my free time at the moment. We like to get out so going for hikes and camping are high on the list of priorities and we used to do a lot of scuba diving too. When I do get some time off I play games like CoD, WoW or Subnautica to relax. Recently I started messing around with Arduino, it’s pretty amazing what you can do with only a few bucks!
What is your favourite film?
In terms of inspiration it has always been Jurassic Park, the idea of bringing back dinosaurs still fascinates me. However, pretty much any good space or sci-fi movie keeps me happy.
Favourite genre of music?
Don’t tell anyone but I still listen to trance music! So Global DJ Broadcast is a weekly download.