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Back to the drawing board to save water
We’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands.

Dr Cindé Greyling, a University of the Free State (UFS) DiMTEC (Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa) alumni, studied drought mitigation with a strong focus on communicating important water-saving information. 

Can we run out of water?
Yes, and no, says Dr Greyling. “To our knowledge, water is not ‘leaking’ through our atmosphere. We have what we have, but that doesn’t mean we will have enough clean, fresh water forever. Nature has a magnificent way of purifying water through the water cycle. We, on the other hand, must use a lot of money and energy to purify water. Also, we’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands. The other problem is a simple supply and demand scenario. More people will need more water, but not only that, population growth calls for industry development and increased food supplies – all of which require more water.”    

A war over water
Besides some Hollywood impressions, it is difficult to imagine a war over water, but it is possible. “Some experts are convinced that we are heading there, and others claim that such tensions already exist. Personally, I don’t favour these kinds of shock tactics (or truths) – social research has shown us that it rarely leads to behavioural changes. We can learn a lot from what was has been done in Cape Town. Although we all think people were bombarded with ‘Day-Zero’-scares, they were actually encouraged to adapt their behaviour with a communication campaign that hardly ever used the term ‘Day-Zero’. This approach mobilised citizens to reach record lows of water usage.” 

Adapt a new normal
Dr Greyling encourages the “new normal” set in motion by Capetonians. “Water consciousness is needed, even when the rain comes again. We’ve taken water for granted for too long. As consumers, we have the power to turn this situation around – drop for drop. Be aware about the amount of water you use, how you use it, and for what. Keep in mind that any wastage and pollution (of ‘dry’ things) also wastes and pollutes water. Generally, we need to behave better regarding consumption.”  

News Archive

Chemistry gets substantial grants
2013-06-10

 

At the experimental setup of the high temperature reduction oven for research in heterogeneous catalysis are, front from left: Maretha Serdyn (MNS Cluster prestige PhD bursar), Nceba Magqi (Sasol employee busy with his MSc in Chemistry) and Dr Alice Brink (Formal MNS Cluster postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry); back Profs Jannie Swarts (Head: Physical Chemistry), André Roodt, and Ben Bezuidenhoudt (Sasol Professor in Organic and Process Chemistry).
10 June 2013

Three research groups in the Department of Chemistry received substantial grants to the value of R4,55 million. The funding includes bursaries for students and post-doctoral fellows, mobility grants, running costs and equipment support, as well as dedicated funds for two young scientists in the UFS Prestige Scholar Programme, Drs Lizette Erasmus and Alice Brink.

The funding comes from Sasol, the THRIP programme of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and PetLabs Pharmaceuticals for the overarching thrust in Organic Synthesis, Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis. The programme has a broad focuse on different fundamental and applied aspects of process chemistry. Research groups of Profs Andreas Roodt (Inorganic), Jannie Swarts (Physical) and Ben Bezuidenhoudt (Organic / Process), principal members of the focus area of (Green) Petrochemicals in the Materials and Nanosciences Strategic Research Cluster (MNS Cluster) will benefit from the grant.

This funding was granted based on the continued and high-level outputs by the groups, which resulted in more than 40 papers featuring in international chemistry publications in merely the past year. A few papers also appeared in the top experimental inorganic chemistry journal from the American Chemical Society, Inorganic Chemistry. These high-impact papers address important issues in catalysis under the UFS Material and Nanosciences Research Cluster initiative, as well as other aspects of fundamental chemistry, but with an applied approach and focus.

Prof Andreas Roodt, Distinguished Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry, said the grants will enable the three research groups to move forward in their respective research areas associated with petrochemicals and other projects, and enable additional students in the department to benefit from it. It will also ensure that these groups can continue and maintain their research on different molecular and nano-scale materials. Current experiments include conversions under extremely high gas pressures (typical 100 times that in motor car tyres). This takes place at the molecular level and at preselected nano-surfaces, to convert cheaper feed-stream starting materials into higher value-added products for use as special additives in gasoline and other speciality chemicals.

The funding support forms part of the Hub-and-Spoke initiative at Sasol under which certain universities and specifically the UFS Department of Chemistry have been identified for strategic support for research and development. The department and the UFS gratefully acknowledge this continued and generous support from all parties concerned.

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