The specialist research areas of chemists at the UFS include:

  • X-ray crystallography 
  • electrochemistry synthesis of new molecules 
  • development of new methods to determine rare elements such as zircon, tantalite and columbite
  • purification of water
  • measuring of energy and temperatures responsible for phase transitions in molecules 
  • the development of agents to observe CANCER and other defects in the body
  • many more

We have top expertise on numerous areas, with excellent equipment, and we compete with the best laboratories in the world. Collaboration agreements with more than 20 respected national and international chemistry research groups are in place, and travel to conferences and research visits are not uncommon. Presently we deliver inputs on technical aspects of ACID MINE WATER in Johannesburg and surroundings, as well as the FRACKING in the Karoo to deliver gas.

Equipment installed in the department of chemistry include:

X-ray diffractometer for crystal research:
Crystals of unknown compounds are investigated on a X-ray diffractometer. The bond lengths in angströms (1 angström is a ten billionth of a meter), angles between the atoms, the exact arrangement of the atoms in the crystal and the precise composition of the molecules in the crystal are determined.

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) for thermographic analysis 
Study of heat transfer and the changes associated with it for e.g. volcanoes and catalytical reactions for new fuel. We measure the temperature changes associated with the phase changes of liquid crystals (watches and TV-screen) of solids to liquids. 

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) 
A NMR apparatus is related to the apparatus known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which is used in hospitals. In chemistry a NMR is used to determine the structure of unknown compounds as well as the degree of purity of a sample using magnetic fields.

High-performance computational centre (HPC)
Presently the HPC of the UFS consists out of approximately 900 computer nuclei, the equivalent of 900 normal personal computers combined in one compact system. The HPC can handle calculations on a billion data point level. Computational chemistry is exceptional handy to calculate molecular properties in the absence of X-ray crystallography data. Some reactions are so fast that intermediate products cannot be characterised, then computational chemistry is of indispensable value. 

Catalytic and high-pressure apparatus
The pressures that can be achieved (in comparison with the pressure in tires) are: in gasses (100 times higher), and in liquids (1500 times), and the apparatus is used to study very special reactions. The aim of the research (some aspects in collaboration with SASOL) is to develop new fuel and fuel additives and to add value to local chemicals.

Reaction velocity apparatus
The rate of reactions can be studied in the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions on the millisecond level, and if combined with the NMR discussed above, on the micro-second level (that is a millionth of a second). Typical reactions are for e.g. the human respiration process (uptake of oxygen in the lungs), uptake of agents in the brain, decomposition of nano materials and proteins, acid – and base catalysed reactions, polymerisation reactions (synthesis of plastics) and much more. 

See the full document here.


Faculty Manager: Ms Lee-Ann Frazenburg
T: +27 51 401 3199

Marketing Manager: Mrs Elfrieda Lötter
T: +27 51 401 2531

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