Home > People > Prof Harro von Blottnitz

Prof Harro von Blottnitz

Head of E&PSE group

Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Cape Town
Private Bag
7701 Rondebosch
South Africa

t : + 27 21 650 2512
f : + 27 21 650 5501
e : Harro.vonBlottnitz@uct.ac.za
w : www.epse.uct.ac.za


Registered as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa
Doctorate in Engineering (Dr.-Ing.), RWTH Aachen (1999)
MSc ENG., UCT (1994)
B.Sc. Hons. (Operations Research), UNISA (1993)
B.Sc. ENG. (Chemical), UCT (1990)


I am a settled and experienced academic, based in a highly dynamic and successful department, as well as a registered professional engineer. I define my research and teaching interests by the multiple challenges of sustainable development in developing countries, esp. as these pertain to resource flows. These interests span topics in the fields of systems thinking and industrial ecology, bio-fuels (biogas, biodiesel and bio-ethanol), waste management and sustainable consumption. Since joining the University of Cape Town in 1998, 59 Masters and 9 PhD students have completed their theses under my supervision, with whom I have published more than 65 peer-reviewed papers or book chapters.
I have taught widely in the undergraduate curriculum and have introduced sustainable development into the curriculum at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. I increasingly regard myself as an experienced systems thinker and regular inter disciplinarian.

From 1995 until May 1998 I was employed at the Chair for Mineral Processing, Beneficiation and Waste Treatment at the Aachen University of Technology in Germany, where I also completed my doctoral dissertation. In it I developed an extension of the sampling theory of particulate solids for applications in recycling operations. The doctorate in engineering was awarded summa cum laude in 1999.

With my roots in South Africa's Eastern Cape and in Namibia, I commenced my academic career with a BSc in Chemical Engineering (first class honours) from the University of Cape Town in 1990. After two years as a process engineer on a PVC production plant, I returned to UCT in 1993, obtaining an MSc.Eng. in 1994 for a dissertation that studied options for hazardous waste management in steel making by a life cycle assessment.

Professional Experience

Late 2019 - Current: Director of the Energy Systems Research Group.
2016-2018: Deputy Head of Department.
July 2014 - 2018: Convenor of the M.Phil. programme specialising in sustainable mineral resource development
January 2013 - Current: Professor in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
July 2012 - Current: Registered as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa.
January 2008 – December 2012: Associate professor in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town.
September 2000 – December 2007: Senior lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town.
September – December 2004: Visiting researcher, Centre d’Energetique,  Ecole des Mines de Paris.
January 2003 – June 2006: Convenor of the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Programme
1998-2000: Care-taker manager, Environmental Process Engineering Research Group, UCT, and contract lecturer in Chemical Engineering, UCT.
1995-1998: Scientific Officer at the Chair for Mineral Processing, Beneficiation and Waste Treatment of the Aachen University of Technology, Germany. One of the main duties was the organisation of the XX International Mineral Processing Congress, including editing and publication of the congress proceedings.
1993: Research Officer at UCT, Chemical Engineering.
1991-1992: Process engineer at PVC-Coalplex plant at AECI's Midland Factory, Sasolburg. Work done includes plant modifications, technical investigations and information systems design and implementation.


Recent and Highly-Cited Publications:

Carbon intensive but decarbonising quickly? Retrospective and Prospective Life Cycle Assessments of South African pome fruit. de Kock, L., V. Russo and H. von Blottnitz; Journal of Cleaner Production, 212, pp. 139-150, 2019.

Accumulation and characteristics of plastic debris along five beaches in Cape Town, South Africa; Chitaka, T.Y. and H. von Blottnitz; Marine Pollution Bulletin, 138, pp. 451-457, 2019.

Biogas production from blood and rumen content of sheep slaughtering waste under ambient conditions; Niyobuhungiro, R. and H. von Blottnitz; pp. 77-87 in “Opportunities for waste biomass and organic waste valorization; Finding alternative solutions to disposal”; eds. Godfrey, L., J.F. Görgens and H. Roman; Unisa Press, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-77615-010-6, 2018.

Cape Town’s metabolism: Insights from a material flow analysis. Hoekman, P. and H. von Blottnitz; Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2017

A review of assessments conducted on bioethanol systems from an energy balance, CO2, and environmental life-cycle perspective; von Blottnitz, H. and M.A. Curran; Journal of Cleaner Production, 15 (7), 2007.

For a full list, see: https://scholar.google.co.za/citations?user=AgB0t3MAAAAJ&hl=en