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No energy transition without heat storage, no heat storage without materials, no storage materials without fundamental physical understanding

Research profile

Henk Huinink is an Assistant Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). His key research interests include phase transitions in crystals, interactions between solids and water, heat and mass transport in porous media and NMR imaging and relaxometry. Henk investigates materials for making thermal batteries, with the goals of increasing power output and multicyclic stable performance. Thermal batteries are charged with heat instead of electricity.

Henk studies the physical working principles of heat storage materials in order to improve them and make them suitable for long term compact storage. He is focusing on so-called thermochemical materials (TCM’s) in general and salt hydrates in particular. As water is built into the crystal structure heat is released (hydration). By heating the materials, the water will desorb (dehydration). This reversible reaction can be used for charging and discharging.

Henk’s research has identified the most promising crystal hydrates for compact heat storage based on the thermochemical principle. He has also elucidated the coupling between the reaction kinetics of hydration/dehydration reactions in salt hydrates and nucleation-growth mechanisms. He will be focusing on the following topics in the coming period:

  • Stabilization of salt hydrates by studying salt/organic composites.
  • Boost the power output by increasing the thermal conductivity of the TCM’s.
  • Improve power output by promoting nucleation in TCM’s.

Academic background

Henk Huinink has a background in physical chemistry. During his MSc and PhD he specialized in the field of statistical physics and its application to soft matter. Henk received his PhD in Soft Matter from Wageningen University, for his work on statistical mechanical modeling of surfactants in pores. Besides heat storage, he has worked on water/ion migration through polymer films and coatings for more than 10 years. From 1997-1999, he was a Research Fellow at Shell, working on block copolymer thin films within the framework of EU project dealing with mescopic simulation methods. 

On sabbatical in 2015Henk spent time at the Center for Computational Chemistry of Prof. Dirk Zahn at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen. Here, he studied atomistic modeling of dynamics in crystal hydrates in view of thermal energy storage. He is involved in a wide range of projects focusing on thermal energy storage, including: 

  • EU H2020: CREATE 
  • TKI projects: Dope4Heat / Cap4Heat 
  • NWO Mat4Sus: Mat4Heat 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


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