Prof Walter Purcell
IB 48
Chemistry Building 6

Short CV

Walter has been in the academic environment for the last 30 years. He obtained his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry. Hy teaches mainly  Analytical Chemistry on different levels in the department.

He has been promotor and co-promotor for a number of Masters- and Ph.D. students. He was also a visiting lecturer at the University of North Texas, in Denton Texas for a year where he taught Chemistry and did research in photolysis and nano-seconds kinetics. Walter published a number of articles in international journals and also contributed a number of papers at national and international conferences. His research interest includes the study of the reaction kinetics of organometallic and inorganic substances in organic and water mediums as well as the quantification and identification of different elements in natural minerals and ores.

Walter was also involved in a number of industrial research projects for SOMCHEM, Textile Unit of the CSIR, short term insurance companies as well as for ESKOM.  For the last 8 years he is actively involved in the AMI (Advance Metal Initiative) with main focus the beneficiation of minerals, concentrating on Zr/Hf, Nb/Ta, PGM, ilmenite and lately also the rare earth metals.


He is the author of more than 90 articles in International Chemistry Journals. These articles cover a wide variety of research topics in the field of coordination chemistry, amongst other structural and kinetic studies of octahedral substitution reactions and oxidative addition reactions.

List of Publication

Recent Articles

S.J. Lötter, W. Purcell and J.T Nel, (2014),  Development of an Affordable GD-OES Support Matrix for Analysis of Non-conducting Zirconium Powders. Advanced Materials Research 1019: 393-397.


M. Nete, W. Purcell and J. T. Nel, (2014) Separation and Isolation of Tantalum and Niobium from Tantalite using Solvent Extraction and Ion Exchange, Hydrometallurgy, 149, 31–40. doi: 10.1016/j.hydromet.2014.06.006


M. Nete, W. Purcell, J.T. Nel, (2014), Comparative Study of Tantalite Dissolution using Different Fluoride Salts as Fluxes, Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, 1, 65, 20 - 26,


Nete, M., Koko, F., Theron, T., Purcell, W. And Nel, J.T. 2014. Primary beneficiation of tantalite using magnetic separation and acid leaching. International Journal of Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials 21:12 1-7.


Lötter, S.J., Purcell, W. and Nel, J.T. 2014. Development of an Affordable GD-OES Support Matrix for Analysis of Non-conducting Zirconium Powders. Advanced Materials Research 1019: 393-397 Full paper, peer evaluated conference proceedings


Nete, M., Purcell, W. and Nel, J.T. 2014. Tantalite Beneficiation Through Sequential Separation of Radioactive Elements, Iron and Titanium by Magnetic Separation and Acide Leaching. Advanced Materials Research 1019: 419-432. (Full paper, peer evaluated conference proceedings).

W. Purcell and H. G. Visser, Rhenium(V)-nitrido complexes with different nitrogen donor bidentate ligands, (2015), Transition Met Chem 40:899–906,
DOI 10.1007/s11243-015-9986-2

T.T. Chiweshe, Walter Purcell and Johan A. Venter, (2015), 1–10 ICP-OES Monitoring of the Instability of [OsCl6]2- and Evaluation of [OsO2(CN)4]2- as Alternative Standard for Osmium Quantification, Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn doi:10.1246/bcsj.20150025

S.J. Lötter, W. Purcell and J.T. Nel, 115, 10 (2015), Glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy: a general overview with regard to nuclear materials, J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2015, vol.115, n.10, pp.966-971. ISSN 2411-9717.

G. Molefo, W. Purcell, M. Nete and J.T. Nel, (2015) The quantification of hafnium in hafnium-containing compounds, Advanced Metals Initiative Nuclear Materials Development Network Conference 2015, October 2015, Port Elizabeth, Full paper, peer evaluated conference proceedings.


M. Nete, W. Purcell and J.T. Nel, (2015) Element distribution between particle size fractions of a tantalite sample, Advanced Metals Initiative Nuclear Materials Development Network Conference 2015, October 2015, Port Elizabeth, Full paper, peer evaluated conference proceedings.

T.T. Chiweshe, W. Purcell, J.A. Venter, (2015), Evaluation of PGE liberation and chromium isolation in a solid UG2 chromitite concentrates at moderate temperatures using ICP-OES, The Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 68(6): 1691-1700.

T.T. Chiweshe, W. Purcell and J.A. Venter, (2016)  Evaluation of Different Internal Standards for Precious Metals Quantification, Bulletin Chemical Society Ethiopia 30(1) 55-70. DOI:

M. Nete, W. Purcell and J.T. Nel, (2016) Hydrometallurgical separation of niobium and tantalum: A fundamental approach, JOM, 68, 2, 556 - 566, , (DOI) 10.1007/s11837-015-1711-2 

W. Purcell and H.G. Visser, J. of Chemical Crystallography (2016), 46, pp. 15 -20,  Evidence of Unusually Long Metal–Aqua Interaction: The Crystal Structure of Tetraphenylphosponium rhenium(V)aquatetracyanonitrido Monohydrate Tri-terpyridine, DOI: 10.1007/s10870-015-0622-y

W. Purcell, J. Conradie, S. Kumar, J.A. Venter, (2016), Characterisation and mechanistic study of the oxidative addition reactions of [Ir(cod)(sacac)], Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, Volume 801,  pp. 80–86, doi: 10.1016/j.jorganchem.2015.10.012.

M. Nete, W. Purcell, W. and J.T. Nel,  (2016),  Separation of Niobium and Tantalum Pentafluoride by Selective Precipitation Using r-Phenylenediamine. The Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 68: 11 2817-2823.

W. Purcell, J. Conradie, S. Kumar and J. A. Venter, (2017) Characterization and oxidative addition reactions for iridium cod complexes, Journal of Coordination Chemistry, Vol. 70, No. 1, 10–24 DOI: 10.1080/00958972.2016.1261402

S. Kumar, W. Purcell, Walter, J. Conradie, R. Bragg, E. Langner, (2017) Synthesis, characterization, computational and antimicrobial activities of a novel iridium thiourea complex, New Journal of Chemistry 41: 10919-10928. doi: 10.1039/C7NJ02019H

M. Nete W. Purcell, J.T. Nel, Non-fluoride dissolution of tantalum and niobium oxides and their separation using ion exchange, (2017) Hydrometallurgy 173 192–198

W. Purcell, W. and T.T Chiweshe, 2017. Chromium isolation from different ores.  European Metallurgical Conference 2017, Leipzig, Germany, 25 – 28 June 2017.  (peer reviewed)J.H. Potgieter, S. Potgieter, S. and W. Purcell, 2017. Quantification of scandium in columbite-tantalite tailings and other scandium compounds.  European Metallurgical Conference 2017, Leipzig, Germany, 25 – 28 June 2017. (peer reviewed).


Book Chapters

M. Nete, W. Purcell. and J.T Nel,  (2017), Analysis of Non-Conducting Tantalite Minerals by Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectrometry., Emerging Trends in Chemical Sciences, pages 11-21, Springer International, ISBN 978-3-319-60407-7

S.J. Lötter, W. Purcell, J.T. Nel, B. and van Brecht, (2017), Cation Influence on Zirconium/Hafnium Fluoride Coordination., Emerging Trends in Chemical Sciences pages 239-265. Springer International, ISBN 978-3-319-60407-7

M. Nete, and W. Purcell, (2017), Beneficiation of Niobium and Tantalum from Tantalite Ore Using Physical and Chemical Processes. Emerging Trends in Chemical Sciences, pages 267-283. Springer International, ISBN 978-3-319-60407-7





Publications (Short List)


Area(s) of Interest

  • Kinetics
  • Synthesis of organometallic complexes
  • Crystallography
  • ISO 17025
  • Method develpment and Statistic validation

Current research

The Analytical Chemistry group is currently involved in a number of analytical and inorganic projects.  The analytical projects involve the dissolution, quantification and method validation of a number of inorganic and ore samples such as zircon, tantalite and columbite.  These projects involve the establishment of methods to accurate identify and quantify the different elements in these samples. Some of these projects are done in close cooperation with industrial partners such as NECSA (AMI) and Thuthuka Group Limited. Microwave and acid dissolution procedures are employed while ICP(OES), AA(GFAAS), UV/visible and IR spectroscopy are used for the identification and quantification of the different elements, with ISO 17025 criteria as benchmark.  Techniques such as XRD, XRF (Geology Dept), DSC and TGA were also used during these studies.  Elements which are currently being investigated are niobium, tantalum, zirconium and rhodium. 

In another project the removal of heavy metal contamination (especially arsenic) from natural water sources by means of natural and synthetic zeolites is been investigated and which is partially funded by the Water Management in Water-Scarce Areas Cluster at the UFS.

The group is also involved in different inorganic chemistry projects. Currently we are involved in kinetic and structural studies of organometallic complexes of Ir(I) and Rh(I) oxidative addition reactions, kinetic and structural studies of Re(V) and Os(VI) cyano complexes as well as some Co and Cr aqueous chemistry.   All these studies made use of XRD, IR UV/vis, NMR and computational methods. 

Courses Presented

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Cyanide complexes
  • Photochemistry
  • Chromatography
  • Spectrometry
  • ISO 17025
  • Statistics

Community Service

Service Learning


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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