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Centre for Energy Research

The group is situated within the chemistry department of the science faculty and has staff doing particular research in physical and polymer chemistry. This ranges from projects that look at:

  • Physical properties of pharmaceutical products using techniques such as MDSC (D Grooff).
  • Plastic and rubber chemistry using thermal analysis and Rheology (P Hlangothi).
  • Materials characterization that uses SEM, TGA-MS and Powder X-ray Diffraction that range from solid catalysts to ammonium nitrate emulsion explosives (E Ferg).
  • In electrochemistry the groups focus on battery electrochemistry. In particular Pb-acid batteries and related materials (E Ferg).
  • Other electrochemical applications include the field of ionic liquids and organic electrosynthesis (P Loyson).

Some of the post graduate battery research projects focus on the use of various additives to improve the anode and cathode materials of Pb-acid batteries in collaboration with Willard Batteries.

Future projects in the field of battery electrochemistry include the testing of Li-ion batteries based on the new LiFePO4 cathode material for EV and utility applications. In particular, the behavior of electrode materials under various simulated testing sequences.

At the heart of the battery testing is a 21 channel Bitrode battery tester that can subject cells and batteries up to 18V to a range of pre-programmed testing sequences of charging and discharging under various voltage, current and temperature controls.

Some recent publications of the group.

  1. Thermal methods for evaluating polymorphic transitions in nifedipine, Thermochimica Acta, D. Grooff, M.M. De Villiers, W. Liebenberg; 454(1); (2007) 33-42.
  2. The effect of Pb and other elements found in recycled polypropylene on the manufacturing of lead acid battery cases; E.E. Ferg and N. Rust; Polymer Testing; 26(8); (2007) 1001-1014.
  3. The influence of particle size and composition on the quantification of airborne quartz analysis on filter paper, E.E. Ferg, P. Loyson and G. Gromer; Industrial Health; 46; (2008) 144-151.
  4. Electrochemical production of alkoxy-substituted phenols, S.Gouws, B. Barton, PLR Loyson, B. Zeelie, Electrochimica Acta 53 (2008) 4544-4549.
  5. Bmim ionic liquids as media for the electrochemical oxidation of 2,6-di-t-butylphenol, P Loyson, C Imrie, S Gouws, B Barton, E Kruger, J Appl Electrochem; in press.
  6. Archaeology benefits from neutron tomography investigations in South Africa; F.C. de Beer, H. Botha, E. Ferg, R. Grundlingh and A. Smith; Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A; 605; (2009) 167-170
  7. A new look at determining acid absorption of grey lead oxide used in the manufacturing of Pb-acid batteries; E.E. Ferg, T. Phangalala and T. van Dyl; J. Appl Electrochem; in press
  8. Characterisation and long term usage catalytic properties of (VO)2P2O7/γAl2O3 stainless steel coated catalyst in p-cymene oxidation; P.R. Makgwane, E.E. Ferg and B Zeelie; J. Appl Catalysis; submitted
  9. Activity and in-situ XRD structure during activation of VOHPO4.0.5H2O and VO(H2PO4) derived VPO catalysts in p-cymene liquid phase oxidation; P.R. Makgwane, E.E. Ferg, D.G. Billing and B Zeelie; Catalysis Letters; submitted