The thermal-fluid research group is a focus group within the Faculty of Engineering that focuses on research relevant to the thermal-fluid industry with the emphasis on energy systems.

The members of the research group each specialize in a specific area of thermal-fluids, all complementing each other. Members of the group are also involved in consultation work in the field of thermal-fluid systems, enhancing the relationship between the university and the industry.

The thermal-fluid research group are involved with, but not limited to:

  • Development of thermal-fluid research test facilities.
  • The development of the next generation of CO2 heat pump technology.
  • Integrated solar water heating with heat pumps.
  • Application of numerical modelling techniques for the simulation of energy systems.
  • Engineering Analytics Group (EAG) in collaboration with the Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics
    • Optimisation and control, through mathematical modelling of thermal flow systems for industry.
  • The use of biomass for electricity generation.

The research contributes on different levels:

  • Energy efficient water heating heat pumps have helped to save electricity used by the consumer and thereby reduce the load on the supply grid.
  • Next generation of heat pumps focus on reducing the global warming impact of current refrigerants used in industry.
  • The involvement with biomass to electricity focus on cleaner alternative ways to generate electricity for smaller industrial applications in place of conventional coal fired systems.
  • A large component of the electricity consumption of deep mining is used for cooling of the underground environment. The research in terms of mobile underground refrigeration focus on energy efficiency to reduce the electricity usage.
  • Engineering Analytics Group (EAG) investigate, model and implement optimum energy resource usage for any engineering plant, especially in a fluctuating process and resource flow environment.  Thermal fluid models are custom developed for a plant, mathematically optimised and implemented in-time using statistical prediction models.

Industry partners include:

  • M-Tech Industrial Pty (Ltd)
  • Eskom via M-Tech Industrial
  • Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)
  • Sasol
  • One Green Engineering CC

Some of the most prominent projects completed by the thermal-fluid research group include:

  • Involvement with the development of the modular and mobile refrigeration units for use in underground mining applications in collaboration with M-Tech Industrial.
  • The heat pump THRIP project that focused on evaluating the energy efficiency impact of water heating heat pumps in the commercial sector.
  • Research involvement with the development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) including the development of both the High Temperature Test Unit (HTTU) and the High Pressure Test Unit (HPTU).

Contact details:

For more information related to the research group please contact Prof. Martin van Eldik ( or Dr. Jan-Hendrik Kruger