Dr Julia Mofokeng
Position
Senior Lecturer/ Researcher
Department
Chemistry
Address
CHEMISTRY
QWA QWA
UFS
Telephone
058 718 5351
Office
Information

Short CV

 

 I am Dr JULIA PUSELETSO MOFOKENG, I was born in Bethlehem on the 4th of July 1979. I started school at Diphakweng Primary School in 1985, and I continued to Dikgakeng Intermediate School in 1989, then I attended secondary school at Tshibollo Senior Secondary School from 1993 and finished my metric in 1997.

I have worked at the University of the North (Qwaqwa campus) as a part time Assistant researcher (1999 May to 2002 December), where I have learned so much about laboratory work, which even strongly motivated me to start my first degree in Chemistry in the year 2003 even though I did not have science background from school. My hard work and dedication to my work, and the results I produced during experiments in the laboratory, assisting my then supervisor, Professor Joseph Bariyanga, spoke volumes for me, and I was allowed to register a science degree.

I have completed my B.Sc degree, majoring in Chemistry and Information Technology in 2007, while I was still working for the University of the Free state in the department of Chemistry as the temporary Assistant researcher. I registered and completed my B.Sc Honours degree, majoring in Polymer science in 2008, I further registered MSc degree in 2009, I have  submitted my thesis, passed with distinction (77%) and obtained my M.Sc Degree in December 2010, and I wrote one article from my MSc research work, and it was published in a peer reviewed journal  in 2011 [9]. In April 2011 when I had just registered and started my PhD research, I was appointed as the full-time employee of the university in the position of Officer: Professional services, in the Department of Chemistry. I have been responsible for planning and execution of research experiments, training new post-graduate students and staff members joining our Polymer Science research laboratory on the use of research equipment. Daily assisting them with their research experiments, to characterize their samples and with the discussion of the results for theses and publications writing. Characterizing samples and helping in the discussion of results for our local and international collaborators, other universities, and research institutions. I have also worked as a temporary lecturer, teaching one honours degree module (Polymer testing and characterization II (CMPC 6814)) in 2015. 

In these year I have acquired experience in the operation and maintenance of the following research equipment: Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Thermogravimetric analyser (TGA), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), TGA-FTIR, Dynamic mechanical analyser (DMA), Impactor, Polarized optical microscope, Sonicators, Rhreometer, Hot melt presser, Tensile, Melt flow tester, contact angle and surface energy measurement system.

 

Attained the knowledge in analysing the results of all the above techniques including Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).  I have also acquired knowledge in methods for preparation of different chemicals for synthesizing polymers, composites, nanocomposites and blends, and also have acquired the ability to work as a team as well as an individual.

Due to the efforts and dedication to my work for the University, on 26 October 2012 The Council of the University of the Free State awarded me the certificate of recognition of the 10 years of service that I have rendered for the University. In 2013 I was selected as the reviewer for the Journal of Thermoplastic and Composite Materials and I have already reviewed a number of papers.

In December 2014 I submitted my PhD thesis, and graduated with Doctoral Degree (PhD) in Polymer science at the University of the Free State Qwaqwa campus in May 2015, and also published four articles/papers in the specialized peer reviewed journals [4-7].

With this work The University of the Free State awarded me “The Best Emerging researcher in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (Qwaqwa campus)” for the year 2016. In 2014-2016 I co-supervised one Masters Degree student with my PhD supervisor, where we have published one paper in the specialized peer reviewed journal in 2017, after the student completed his MSc degree in Polymer Science

After graduating for PhD in 2015, in 2016 I took the liberty to supervise two Masters Degree students, and they both obtained their M.Sc qualifications in 2018. In August 2017, I was appointed as the permanent Lecturer/Researcher by the University of the Free State, in Chemistry Department. Lecturing honours degree courses, and overseeing all research activities in the Polymer Science research laboratory in Chemistry Department at QwaQwa campus.

I am currently (2018-2020) supervising one PhD, two Masters (MSc), and two Honours degrees students, and I am the co-supervisor to three other MSc students.

I have acquired all my degrees at University of the Free State, while I was still juggling between studies and work on a daily basis. I have published twelve 12 articles in the peer reviewed specialized journals and my research work have been presented in fourteen (14) conferences (local and international) since 2010 to date. I have supervised one (3) Honours, two (2) Masters, and co-supervised one (1) Masters degrees students, of which all have acquired their qualifications and graduated from 2014 to 2018.

I have independently established a research collaboration with Professors AJ Mishra, and S Bhardwaj Mishra, with their PhD student Mrs SC Mojaki from the Nanotechnology and Water Sustainability Research Unit, University of South Africa (Florida Campus), Johannesburg in 2017, and one article was submitted and published online on the 24th of March 2018  [1]. This is my best paper since it has started my independence as the researcher, and I am hoping to establish more collaborations with other institutions.

I have been awarded National Research Foundation Innovation bursary since my B.Sc (Hons.) until my first year of PhD, when I got employed as a permanent employee of The the University of the Free State in 2011. I then applied for NRF Thuthuka, and I was awarded NRF, Thuthuka (PhD Track) UID 87867 funding for the years 2014-2016, and in 2016 to 2018 I was NRF Thuthuka (Post PhD Track) grant holder.

I am planning to establish my own research group, dealing with energy saving and environmental awareness, where I will be grooming, empowering and preparing post-graduate students for research world. I would also like to spread the awareness to communities around Qwaqwa and neighbouring towns. I am planning to work very hard and publishing many more papers, to put me in a position to be a rated researcher. My main goal is becoming a full professor in Polymer science in years to come.

 

Publications

 

PUBLICATIONS IN SPECIALIZED JOURNALS

 

I have managed a number of projects, where I have planned, executed experimental and authored and co-authored the reports.  I have succesfully authored, and published the following eleven research articles in the peer reviewed specialised Journals, where some are co-authored with our research collaborators locally and internationally:

 

 

1.         S.C. Mojaki, S. Bhardwaj Mishra, A.K. Mishra, J.P. Mofokeng. Influence of polysiloxane as nanofiller on the surface, optical and thermal properties of guar gum grafted polyaniline matrix. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 2018;

            DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.03.049

2.         T.B. Motloung, D. Dudic, J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Properties and thermo-switch behaviour of LDPE mixed with carbon black, zinc metal and paraffin wax. Journal of Polymer Research 2017; 23:43-54.

            DOI 10.1007/s10965-017-1205-8

3.         J.P. Mofokeng, I. Kelnar, A.S. Luyt. Effect of layered silicates on the thermal stability of PCL/PLA microfibrillar composites. Polymer Testing 2016; 50:9-14

            DOI: 10.1016/j.polymertesting.2015.12.004

4.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Morphology and thermal degradation studies of melt-mixed poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-valerate) (PHBV)/poly(e-caprolactone) (PCL) biodegradable polymer blend nanocomposites with TiO2 as filler. Journal of Materials Science 2015; 50: 3812-3824.

            DOI: 10.1007/s10853-015-8950-z

5.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Morphology and thermal degradation studies of melt-mixed PLA/PHBV biodegradable polymer blend nanocomposites with TiO2 as filler. Journal of Applied Polymer Science 2015; 132:42138

            DOI: 10.1002/app.42138

6.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Morphology and thermal degradation studies of melt-mixed poly(lactic acid) (PLA)/poly(e-caprolactone) (PCL) biodegradable polymer blend nanocomposites with TiO2 as filler. Polymer Testing 2015; 45: 93-100

            DOI:10.1016/j.polymertesting.2015.05.007

7.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Dynamic mechanical properties of PLA/PHBV, PLA/PCL, PHBV/PCL blends and their nanocomposites with TiO2 as nanofiller. Thermochimica Acta 2015; 613:41–53.

            DOI:10.1016/j.tca.2015.05.019

8.         Stephen S. Ochigbo, Adriaan S. Luyt, Julia P. Mofokeng, Željka Antic, Miroslav D. Dramicanin, Vladimir Djokovic. Dynamic mechanical and thermal properties of the composites of thermoplastic starch and lanthanum hydroxide nanoparticles. Journal of Applied Polymer   Science 2013; 127(1):699-709.

                            DOI: 10.1002/app.37859

9.         A.S. Luyt,  M. Messori, P. Fabbri, J. P. Mofokeng, R. Taurino, T. Zanasi, F. Pilati, Polycarbonate reinforced with silica nanoparticles. Springer Polymer Bulletin 2011; 66:991–1004

                            DOI 10.1007/s00289-010-0408-5

10.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, T. Tábi, J. Kovacs. Comparison of injection moulded, natural fibre reinforced composites with PP and PLA as matrices. Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials 2011; 25(8):927-948

            DOI: 10.1177/0892705711423291.

11.       W. Mhike, W.W. Focke, J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Thermally conductive phase-change materials for energy storage based on low-density polyethylene, soft Fischer–Tropsch wax and graphite. Thermochimica Acta 2011; 527:75-82.

            DOI:10.1016/j.tca.2011.10.008

12.       A.S. Luyt, I. Krupa, H.J. Assumption, E.E.M. Ahmad, J.P. Mofokeng. Blends of polyamid

Publications (Short List)

CONFERENCE PAPERS

 

My research work has been presented in 13 conferences, local and international, where the recent one was in May 2017, in Taiwan:

 

1.          T.A. Tsotetsi, J.P. Mofokeng. Preparation and characterisation of flame retarded natural fibre reinforced biopolymer blends. The 4th International conference on Bio-based polymers and composites, which will be held at Balatonfüred, Hungary in Europe 01-07 September 2018.

 

2.         M. Makhalema, J.P. Mofokeng. Structure and properties of DAP flame retarded PLA/PCL/Natural fibre blend composites. The 6th International Conference on Bio-based Polymers (ICBP2017) conference, Yuan Ze University, Taiwan 14-17 May 2017

3.         L.T. Mukwada, J.P. Mofokeng. Structure and properties of PLA/PCL blend nanocomposites with Mg(OH)2 and APTMS-TiO2. UNESCO/IUPAC workshop & conference on macromolecules & materials, Stellencbosch, South Africa, 10-13 April 2017

4.          T.A. Tsotetsi, J.P. Mofokeng. Preparation and characterization of flame retarded natural fibre reinforced biopolymer blends. UNESCO/IUPAC workshop & conference on macromolecules & materials, Stellencbosch, South Africa, 10-13 April 2017

5.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, Morphology, thermal degradation and mechanical properties of biodegradable polyester blends and nanocomposites. 20th International Conference on Composite Materials (ICCM20), Copenhagen, Denmark, 19-24 July 2015.

6.          J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, ‘Preparation and characterisation of biodegradable PLA/PHBV, PLA/PCL and PHBV/PCL polymer blends and their nanocomposites with TiO2 as filler. BiPoCo 2014, 2nd international conference on Bio-based polymers and composites, 24-28 August 2014, Visegrád, Hungary.

7.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, J. Kovacs. Comparison of injection moulded natural fibre reinforced composites with PP and PLA as matrices, 11th international conference on frontiers of polymers and advanced materials, 22-27 May 2011, Pretoria, South Africa.

8.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, J. Kovacs. Comparison of injection moulded natural fibre reinforced composites with PP and PLA as matrices. 11th Annual UNESCO/IUPAC Workshop and Conference on Functional Polymeric Materials & Composites, 26-29 April 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

9.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, ‘Preparation and characterisation of biodegradable PLA/PHBV, PLA/PCL and PHBV/PCL polymer blends and their nanocomposites with TiO2 as filler. 12th Annual UNESCO/IUPAC Workshop and Conference on Macromolecules & Materials, 25-28 March 2013, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

10.         J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt. Preparation and characterization of completely biodegradable polymer-titania nanocomposites.  Keynote lecture presented at EUROFILLERS 2013, 25-29 August 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia.

11.       J.P. Mofokeng, A.S. Luyt, J. Kovacs. Comparison of injection moulded, natural fibre reinforced composites with PP and PLA as matrices. POLYCHAR 19 – World Forum on Advanced Materials, 20-24 March 2011, Kathmandu, Nepal

12.       S.S. Ochigbo, A.S. Luyt, J.P. Mofokeng, T. Antic, M.D. Dramicanin, V. Djokovic. Thermoplastic starch- La(OH)3 nanocomposites: Preparation and properties. Invited lecture at the 11th Annual UNESCO/IUPAC Workshop and Conference on Functional Polymeric Materials & Composites, 26-29 April 2011, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

13.       S.S. Ochigbo, A.S. Luyt, J.P. Mofokeng, T. Antic, M.D. Dramicanin, V. Djokovic. Thermoplastic starch- La(OH)3 nanocomposites: Preparation and properties. Invited lecture at the 11th International Conference on Frontiers of Polymers and Advanced Materials, 22-26 May 2011, Pretoria, South Africa.

14.       S.S. Ochigbo, A.S. Luyt, J.P. Mofokeng, T. Antic, M.D. Dramicanin, V. Djokovic. Thermoplastic starch- La(OH)3

Research

Area of research: Polymer science

Preparation, synthesis and Characterization of completely biodegradable polymers, their blends, blends composites/nanocomposites with natural fibres, and inorganic nano materials as fillers/reinforcements for applications in building, automotive interior  as well as short shelve life/disposable products (packaging) industries.

 

I have four projects that are handled by me and my post graduate students that are running concurently and the titles are as follows:

  1. Preparation and characterization of flame retarded natural fibre reinforced PBS/PCL blends
  2. Preparation and characterization of PLA/PCL nanocomposites with Mg(OH)2 and functionalised-TiO2.
  3. Structure and properties of DAP flame retarded PLA/PCL/natural fibre blend composites.
  4. Preparation and characterization of biodegradable polymer blends nanocomposites with PC encapsulated MWCNT and functionalized TiO2 and as fillers.%%%%%%
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Area(s) of Interest

The recent advances in the field of light-weight materials, and related methods, entail the development of new and promising materials in order to replace the oil/ based polymers and heavy conventional materials, such as metals and ceramics. This is done by modifying the current technologies, and optimizing the processing conditions to achieve low-cost, energy saving, environmentally friendly, high-speed and high quality mass production. There are also research efforts aimed at finding suitable preparation methods, study of the compatibility of the constituents making up the final product, determining whether the final product will meet industrial application requirements, and whether it will be strong enough to last for the required period, and determining whether the product can be made cost-effectively. Therefore, my research involves the preparation and characterization of completely biodegradable polymers, their blends, blends composites and nanocomposites with natural fibres, and inorganic nano materials as compatibilizers, and fillers/reinforcements for applications in building, automotive interior as well as packaging industries.

The ongoing research entails preparation of blends composites/nanocomposites to improve morphology, thermal, thermos-mechanical, and mechanical properties for applications in packaging industry. The inorganic fillers are used to stabilise the interfaces, and equally improve flame retardation. I have two projects that are currently running in 2018/2019, and I have conducted research, prepared and characterized the sample, interpreted and discussed results. The writing up of two papers that are envisaged to be submitted before the end of 2019 has commenced, and titled as followed:
1. Structure and properties of melt processed biodegradable PLA/PHBV blends nanocomposites with APTMS functionalized TiO2 as a filler.
2. Preparation and characterization of the PBS/PC blends and PCL/PBS/PC ternary blends.

Future Planned research 1.
biocomposites made up of biopolymer matrices reinforced with natural fibres/inorganic nanofillers seems to be the best solution towards the improvement of interfaces, mechanical, and thermal properties. However, the most serious concern with natural fibers is their hydrophilic nature, which can lead to poor adhesion between the fibre and hydrophobic polymer matrices. The poor fibre-polymer matrix adhesion causes reduced mechanical properties. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the mechanical and other properties of biocomposites by introducing chemical or physical treatments to the natural fibres. 2 projects will run for 2020/2021 period, namely:

1. Preparation and characterization of PC-encapsulated MWCNT flame retarded natural fibre reinforced PLA/PCL blends
2. Structure and properties of DAP flame retarded PLA/PHBV/natural fibre blend composites

Future Planned research 2
For the years 2022 to 2025 in the use of inorganic nanoparticles as fillers in the biodegradable polymer blends, as they have shown to be an area of interest. Inorganic nanoparticles are mostly naturally occurring and non-toxic; they are safe to use.  They have the ability to act as a filler and as a compatibilizer at the same time. Also of importance to note is that they have been shown to result in nanocomposites with good chemical resistance, mechanical properties and low permeability to gases; and good compatibility at the interface between different polymer phases. The challenge however is the agglomeration of the nanoparticles with limits the improvement of desired properties and the amount of filler which can be used. This research is envisaged to address all these issues, and the anticipated projects are as follows: 

1. Preparation and characterization of PLA/PHBV nanocomposites with Mg(OH)2 and functionalised-TiO2.
2. Preparation and characterization of biodegradable polymer blends nanocomposites with PC encapsulated MWCNT and functionalized SiO2 and as fillers.
3. Preparation and characterization of PHBV/PCL nanocomposites with and functionalised-TiO2 and SiO2 nanoparticles as fillers.

There are also a number of other suitable nanoparticles, e.g. zirconia and conductive particles like nano-copper and nano-silver, that may be used in similar investigations. 3 to 6 papers will be published by the end of 2025.

Aims
To develop biodegradable polymer composites with improved mechanical and flame retardant properties using, natural fibres and inorganic nanofillers, in the blends of polybutylene succinate (PBS), Poly(caprolactone) (PCL) and Polylactic acid (PLA), Poly(Hydroxybutyrate-co-valerate) (PHBV) and other biodegradable polymers for the use in application for packaging, aerospace and automotive industries.

Objectives
Fibres will be and some inorganic nanofillers will treated to modify their surfaces, mainly to distribute the hydrogen bonds in the network structure, thereby increasing the surface roughness. Different loadings of the fillers and nanofillers will be added to the neat blends in order to improve different. Their morphological/structural, thermal, mechanical, thermo-mechanical and flame retardant behaviour/properties of the samples will be investigated. When the research is completed, six to ten research articles will be published by the end of 2025. In each year I will supervise at least two honours, two Masters, and one Doctoral degrees students I am planning to establish my own research group for energy saving and environmental awareness.

 

Courses Presented

CMPP 6814 Physical Polymer Science

(16 credits, 16 hours theory, 64 hours practicals, one examination paper of 2 hours)

Lecturer:

Dr J.P. Mofokeng

Prescribed book:

Introduction to Polymers Third edition, by Robert J. Young and Peter A. Lovell

Course content:

  • Molecular weights and sizes
  • Polymer structure and morphology
  • Polymer structure-property relationships
  • The deformation of an elastic solid
  • Rubber-like elasticity
  • Principles of linear viscoelasticity
  • Anisotropic mechanical behaviour
  • Relaxation transitions

After successful completion of the module the student should:

1. Understand and be able to apply the concepts underlying molecular weights and sizes of polymers

2. Understand the chain-like structure of polymers, and be able to describe and explain polymer features like crystalline structure, amorphous structure, glass transitions and melting, models used to explain the morphology in semi-crystalline polymers, and orientation

3. Know and understand the relationships between polymer structure/morphology and the different physical properties

 

Polymer Characterization (Polymer Testing and Characterization II) CMPC 6824

(16 credits, 15 hours theory, 64 hours practicals, one examination paper of 2 hours)

 Prescribed handbook:

Thermal analysis of polymers, Fundamentals and Applications, by Joseph, D. Menczel and Bruce, R. Prime

Course content:

  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)
  • Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA)
  • Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA)
  • Testing of mechanical properties (Tensile and Impactor)
  • Testing of electrical properties, optical properties, environmental stability, chemical resistance, particle size, adhesion, permeability and diffusion

After successful completion of the module the student should:

1. Understand and be able to explain the principles behind most of the techniques used in polymer analysis and characterization, as well as the instrumental setups and experimental designs of these techniques.

Community Service

Provide motivational talks, and guidance  for grade 12 leaners on an annual basis at The Old Apostolic Church, in different provinces, Lesotho.

FACULTY CONTACT

Please contact us by email for assistance.
We are currently not in our offices, as per the lockdown measures in place for South Africa.


Marketing Manager: Elfrieda Lötter
T: +27 51 401 2531
E: lottere@ufs.ac.za

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