School of Engineering




Our research programmes are strong and internationally recognised. Our strength lies in our capabilities to undertake research over a multitude of length- and time-scales relevant not only to chemical engineering, but also to the pure sciences (chemistry and physics).  

Corrosion of Materials of Construction

Provide consultancy to private companies and individuals, and work on own corrosion topics for publication purposes. All work is related to corrosion of materials of construction (metals and plastics) and most projects are in collaboration with Mangosuthu University of Technology. 


  • Mr C Baah

CFL Project

The compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) have been introduced all over the world. Their life span is limited. At present there is no known technology of processing of spent bulbs. It is not possible simply to dump them as a solid waste or to treat them as ordinary glass. This is because they contain valuable Yttrium and Europium. Another reason for further processing of spent bulbs is their content of highly toxic Mercury. We have developed and patented a new technology of recovery of these two precious metals from spent CFL’s together with toxic waste processing. The construction of a commercial unit is about to be completed. 


Fibre-Processing Research Group

The FPRG is a unit of the CSIR’s Forest and Forest Products (FFP) Research Group with specialisation in the fields of wood chemistry and wood morphology, pulping, bleaching, low and high consistency refining, recycled fibres and non-wood pulping and bleaching. Other areas of research include optimisation of the use of recycled fibres for maximum yield and optimal paper or tissue properties; Water closure in recycled paper mills; New pulping, delignification and bleaching technologies for fibre yield improvements and reduction in environmental impacts; Cleaner production in the pulp and paper industry; Pulp mills as biorefineries (extracting value-added products from wood prior to processing into pulp and paper). Research activities in this area include valorisation of lignin, production of biodiesel and bio-oils, ionic liquids, extraction of high value chemicals, and valorisation of mill sludge. 


Fluidisation Technology and clean coal technologies

The research is focused on combustion, gasification and pyrolysis, fluidised bed hydrodynamics, and industrial applications. Funding is provided by ESKOM and NRF.


Mineral Processing

Research mostly sponsored by industry (Lonmin Platinum and Anglo Platinum) and Mintek. Recent projects included various aspects of platinum flotation and pebble grinding. Some work has also been done on leaching, and a new project has been started on leaching of manganese ore and production of manganese dioxide.


Process control

Current research concerns modelling, identification and control of hybrid systems, with applications on water distribution networks and multiple-effect evaporators.


Reactor Technology

  • Design, optimization and modelling of multiphase chemical reactors and mass contactors
  • Chemical reaction engineering, kinetics and catalysis
  • Fluid and particle dynamics
  • Development and optimization of processes for the synthesis of fluorochemicals
  • Investigation of a novel direct coal to liquids solvent mediated process
  • Chemicals from catalytic upgrading of sugarcane bagasse pyrolysis oil
  • Bagasse fractionation using high pressure hot water treatment


Thermodynamics Research Unit

The Thermodynamics Research Unit is a top rated research group in this area in the world with collaborations in Germany, France, Poland, Sweden, UK, among others. Much of the research carried out is industry linked with projects being run for SASOL, Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) and other industries requiring research support in chemical separations. The SARChI Chair also covers research in reactor technology and organic synthesis.


Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Research & Development Centre (WASH R&D Centre)

The WASH R&D Centre is an official centre in the discipline of Chemical Engineering that undertakes contract research. The primary industrial research partners are eThekwini Municipality Water and Wastewater Services, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sasol Technology Pty (Ltd), Water Research Commission and National Research Foundation and focuses on wastewater and sanitation.


  • Mr C Brouckaert
  • Prof C Buckley
  • Dr K Foxon