School of Engineering



Research GroupDescriptionResearchers
Energy and Environment Research GroupThe Energy and Environment Research Group carries out research in the areas of biofuel synthesis, biomaterial extraction and applications, environmental remediation, high temperature processing of wastes, as well as cleaner production strategies.

Mohammadi, Amir

Obwaka, Ell

Reactor Technology Research Group

A key feature in current chemical engineering research is the application of process intensification. The term process intensification refers to technologies that replace large expensive energy intensive equipment or processes with ones that are smaller, less costly and more efficient. It deals with process miniaturization, reduction in capital cost, enhanced safety and energy efficiency and often improved product quality. It also encompasses improvement in process chemistry, process steps, multifunctional reactors, membrane reactors and use of more intensified methods of processing such as the use of ultrasound, microwaves and magnetic fields. The Reactor Technology Research Group has been developed around this concept of process intensification, and has focused on the production of advanced materials for application in intensified chemical reactors and separators.

The RTRG is also home to the African Rainbow Minerals Chair in Sustainable Engineering and Process Intensification.

Carsky, Milan

Lokhat, David

Moodley, Suren

SMRI/NRF SARChI Research Chair in Sugarcane BiorefiningProf Annegret Stark is the SARChI Research Chair in Sugarcane Biorefining. The research areas covered by the Chair include sugarcane and other biomass conversion and separation processes, solvent design, process optimisation, catalysis, life-cycle assessment, as well as techno-economic assessment. Prof Stark and her interdisciplinary team are investigating opportunities to convert local biomass (sugarcane) to chemicals and materials, and implementing the biorefinery concept in industry. Having over 15 years of experience in applied areas of chemistry and chemical engineering, her group’s research takes a holistic approach, covering fundamental investigations of biomass composition and properties, resource and market analysis, chemical and catalytic conversion and separation, as well as process development.

Stark, Annegret

Thermodynamics Research Unit

The Thermodynamics Research Unit is located in the School of Engineering at the University of KwaZulu Natal (on the Howard College Campus). This research group has some 30 years of expertise in the equipment design of apparatus for phase equilibria measurements.

The theoretical developments in terms of modeling of phase behaviour of binary systems have also remained one of the focal points within this group. Thermodynamics has been a key driver behind the growth of distillation studies, process modeling, etc. which critically depends on accurate description of thermodynamic properties and phase behaviour.

This research group is both nationally and internationally recognised with regard to research output and research facilities. The Unit is established in the area of phase equilibria measurements. Within the Unit, other joint collaborations exist with international researchers in the areas of model development and property estimation methods, molecular simulations, plasma technology and gas hydrate technology. Much of the research carried out is industry linked – Our sponsors/funders include the following companies: Pelchem, Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), SASOL, ESKOM, Illovo, SMRI, amongst other engineering and major petrochemical refineries.

Mohammadi, Amir

Moodley, Kuveneshan

Moodley, Suren

Nelson, Wayne

Naidoo, Prathieka

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

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Research and Development Centre (WASH R&D Centre) was launched in December 2020. This Centre was created to formalise the operation of the Pollution Research Group (PRG) which has been operating at UKZN since 1971. Since its inception, the PRG has realised the importance of collaborative, transdisciplinary research, and this approach has become central to many of the projects awarded to the Group.

The primary industrial research partners are eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation Services, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sasol Technology Pty (Ltd), Water Research Commission and the National Research Foundation and focuses on wastewater and sanitation.

Lokhat, David

Mercer, Susan

Pocock, Jon

Septien, Santiago

Singh, Anusha