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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

UFS research could light up South African homes
2016-01-21

Reitumetse Maloa, postgraduate student and researcher at the UFS Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, is using her research to provide solutions to the energy crises in South Africa.

A young researcher at the university is searching for the solution to South Africa’s energy and electricity problems from a rather unlikely source: cow dung.

“Cow dung could help us power South Africa,” explains Reitumetse Maloa, postgraduate student and researcher at the UFS Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

Reitumetse’s research is trying to understand how the bacteria works that is responsible for producing biogas.

“Biogas can be used for cooking, heating, lighting and powering generators and turbines to make electricity. The remaining liquid effluent can fertilise crops, as it is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.”

By using cow dung and food waste to produce biogas, we will be able to lower greenhouse gases.

Biogas is produced in a digester - an oxygen-free space in which bacteria break down or digest organic material fed into the system. This process naturally produces biogas, which is mainly a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide.

“Many countries, such as Germany and the United States, have begun generating electricity from cow dung and food waste, through a process known as biogas production. In South Africa, a number of industries, including waste-water treatment facilities and farms, have caught on to this technology, using it to generate heat and to power machines.”

Until recently the world has relied heavily on electricity derived from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. Once these fuels have been extracted from underground reservoirs, they are treated or cleaned, transported to power plants and transformed into the electricity that will reach your house. Fossil fuels are considered a ‘dirty’ energy source which gives off greenhouse gases when burned. Those gases are the major contributing factor to climate change.

“We know very little about the interaction of the bacteria inside the biogas digester. To use biogas as a sustainable fuel source, we need to understand and describe the bacteria population and growth dynamics inside the digester to produce biogas optimally. Currently we are testing a variety of feedstock, including bran, maize and molasses, for biogas production potential, as well as optimising the conditions leading to maximum biogas production. We are also exploring the potential to use the effluent as fertiliser on local farms. The ultimate goal is to have biogas systems that will supply our university with clean energy.”


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