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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

Lithium-ion batteries research set to improve ordinary lives
2016-02-11

Description: Dr Lehlohonolo Koao  Tags: Dr Lehlohonolo Koao

Dr Koao is making a much-needed contribution in improving lives of ordinary people through his research on lithium-ion batteries.

The future of relevant and top-notch scientific research at the Qwaqwa Campus is in good hands. Dr Lehlohonolo Koao is one of the five members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) on the Qwaqwa Campus.

The need to improve the efficiency of heating mechanisms in his immediate community in Qwaqwa, and the support he receives from the PSP, have become catalysts for his current research project on lithium-ion batteries. According to Dr Koao, the study will focus on producing batteries that last longer, store more energy, are cheaper to manufacture, and are environmentally friendly when being disposed of. These are key factors in solar energy.

‘’The majority of households in my neighbourhood have benefited from the government’s project of providing households with solar panels to help with lighting, cooking, and heating without worrying about the ever-increasing electricity costs,’’ said Dr Koao.

‘’Since my arrival in the area, I have realized that the heat absorption rate of the batteries used by solar panels is not enough. As a result, these batteries also lack enough power to sustain the supply throughout the day, especially on a cloudy day,’’ he said.

His research project focuses on improving the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries that are now commonly used in portable electronics, such as cell phones and laptops. This kind of battery is rapidly replacing the usual lead-acid batteries. Dr Koao’s determination to contribute towards a safer and more efficient heating absorption system has made him move away completely from his PhD study on lighting material.

‘’My previous study was on reducing the power usage on domestic and industrial lights as they use more electricity. This study, on the other hand, will enhance power retention in the batteries for improved daily life since cell phones, solar panels, and laptops, to mention only a few, are now a way of life,’’ he added.

Dr Koao is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics, where he specializes in solid state materials.

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