Navorsingsgroep vir katalise en sintese



Research Focus: Base-metal catalysis for fine-chemical synthesis and engery applications

Our efforts in this sub-program is focused on the development of catalytic processes with application in synthesis and energy:

Base-metal catalysis for organic transformations and energy – In this thrust we develop catalyst systems derived from earth-abundant metals such as iron, manganese, copper and nickel. Transformations which are investigated include alkane and alcohol oxidation, the hydrogenation of unsaturated organic compounds, with particular emphasis on carbon dioxide hydrogenation as well as chemical and electrochemical water splitting. Products of catalysis find varied application in the fine-chemical and agrochemical industries, as well as in the environmentally relevant area of carbon dioxide utilisation and alternative fuel synthesis. In our approach we employ modern organic and organometallic synthesis techniques, develop novel reactivity patterns and aim to establish a thorough mechanistic understanding of the process.

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Research Focus: Surfactant development: Synthesis, Properties and Applications

Our efforts in this sub-program is focused on the development of catalytic processes with application in synthesis and energy:

(i) Surfactant Synthesis – Surface Active Agents, also called surfactants, are compounds which lower the surface tension between two liquids or a liquid and solid. These materials find widespread application as wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants. Their widespread utility in every day life cannot be overestimated. In this thrust we employ and develop modern synthetic organic chemistry techniques to prepare and characterise surfactants. In particular, emphasis is placed on synthetic routes which are easily scalable, producing minimal by-products and which are operationally simple. Typically these prepared surfactants encompass the following sub-categories: cationic and zwitterionic surfactants.

(ii) Surfactant properties – While surfactants are ubiquitous in their everyday use, a thorough understanding of their physicochemical properties is often lacking. As such we aim to employ modern spectroscopic and analytical techniques to characterise our prepared surfactants, which informs their potential application. Analytical methods include NMR, HPLC and tensiometry.

Research Leaders

Prof Andrew Swarts (Group Leader)

Position: Associate Professor

Telephone: +27 18 299 2356
Physical address: Building G8, room G11, Potchefstroom Campus
Expertise: Inorganic chemistry - Synthesis; Organometallic chemistry; Kinetics/reaction mechanisms; Catalysis

External links:

Andrew Swarts obtained his Ph.D. in 2013 from Stellenbosch University, working with Prof Selwyn Mapolie in the area of homogeneous catalysis. He moved to North-West University (NWU) in 2014, where he is currently employed as Associate Professor (since 2020). Since his move to NWU, he has established a research niche within the Catalysis and Synthesis Research Group focused on benign catalytic transformations. A NRF Y-rated researcher, Andrew’s research interests are focussed on the development of efficient catalytic processes for oxidation and hydrogenation reactions with applications in synthetic methodology and energy. Key goals include operating at low temperatures and at ambient pressures, employing earth-abundant metals as catalysts or catalyst precursors. He served as national committee member of the Catalysis Society of South Africa (2018-2019) and Group Leader of the Catalysis and Synthesis Research Group (since 2018).

Prof Manie Vosloo

Position: Professor

Telephone: +27 18 299 1669
Physical address: Building G9, room G11, Potchefstroom Campus
Expertise: Analytical chemistry; Computational chemistry; Catalysis; Organic chemistry - Synthesis; Petrochemicals; Industrial chemistry; Homogeneous catalysis; Organometallic synthesis; Polymer chemistry

External links:

Manie Vosloo completed a PhD in 1991, focussed on the metal-catalyzed polymerisation of alkynes at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (currently NWU). Following a brief stint as a teacher he returned to his alma mater, where he progressed through the ranks and was appointed full Professor. Currently he serves as director of the Research Focus Area: Chemical Resource Beneficiation at the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University and manager of the RSA Olefins programme of c*change. As a NRF C-rated researcher, Manie has diverse research interests. Areas of specialisation include metathesis and related chemistries, molecular modelling of homogeneous catalytic systems, polymer synthesis and characterization, and surfactant chemistry.

Dr Johan Jordaan

Position: Chief Subject Specialist

Telephone: +27 18 299 2349
Physical address: LAS: Building G6, room G05, Potchefstroom Campus
Expertise: Analytical chemistry; Computational chemistry; Catalysis; Organic chemistry - Synthesis; Petrochemicals; Industrial chemistry; Homogeneous catalysis; Organometallic synthesis; Polymer chemistry

External links:

Johan Jordaan completed his PhD in 2005 at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (currently NWU) which focussed on the synthesis of tetracyclic amino acids. Thereafter he shifted his focus to analytical technique development, underpinned by the completion of a number of international training worskhops on instrumentation and method development. He currently serves as Head of the Laboratory for Analytical Services (LAS). His areas of specialisation include metathesis and analytical method development.

Dr Danie Otto 

Position: Senior Subject Specialist

Telephone: +27 18 299 2361
Physical address: Building G6, room G06, Potchefstroom Campus
Expertise: Analytical chemistry; NMR; surfactants and colloids; drug delivery

External links:

Danie Otto attained his PhD in 2008 at the North-West University. It focused on copolymerization of vinyl monomers and their application as drug delivery systems. Thereafter he completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Johannes Gutenberg University at Mainz and lastly at the NWU in Potchefstroom. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry and returned to NWU in 2017. As a C-rated researcher, Danie focuses his research on surfactants and colloids and their applications. He applies his specialised training on high-end equipment such as NMR spectrometers to study colloids. He provides NMR spectrometry services at the Laboratory for Analytical Services at the CRB. He also offers support on various other analytical instruments.


Publications from 2017 - 2020

The development of a Cu(I)/pyrazolylpyridineamine catalyst system for the hydroxylation of aryl halides

Lindie Marais, Hermanus C.M. Vosloo and Andrew J. Swarts

Mol. Catal.2020486, 110839


Palladium (II) complexes chelated by 1‐substituted‐4‐pyridyl‐1H‐1,2,3‐triazole ligands as catalyst precursors for selective ethylene dimerization

M. Cassiem Joseph, Andrew J. Swarts and Selwyn F. Mapolie

Appl. Organomet. Chem.202034, e5595


Geographical information system software as in-house chemical indexing database for catalyst screening of alkene metathesis catalysts

Jean I. du Toit, Marié du Toit, Cornelia G.C.E. van Sittert and Hermanus C.M. Vosloo

Catal. Today2020342, 187



α-Pyridinyl Alcohols, α,α’-Pyridine Diols, α-Bipyridinyl Alcohols, and α,α’-Bipyridine Diols as Structure Motifs Towards Important Organic Molecules and Transition Metal Complexes

Tegene T. Tole, Johannes Jordaan and Hermanus Vosloo

Current Org. Synth., 2020, ASAP


Karakterisering van Grubbs-tipe-prekatalisatore met behulp van kernmagnetieseresonansiespektrometrie

Frans Marx, Daniel Otto, Christo de Lange, Johan Jordaan and Hermanus Vosloo

Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie, 2019, 38, 1


Functionalising lignin in crude glycerol to prepare polyols and polyurethane

Louis Muller, Sanette Marx, Hermanus Vosloo and Idan Chiyanzu

Polym. Renewable Resour. 201910, 3




Aluminum triflate-cocatalyzed radical copolymerization of styrene and ethyl acrylate

Upenyu Guyo, Daniel P. Otto, Desmond A. Young and Hermanus C.M. Vosloo

Polym. Bull.201977, 2227



Synthesis and evaluation of chromone derivatives as inhibitors of monoamine oxidase

Annah Mpitimpi, Jacobus Petzer, Anél Petzer, Johannes Jordaan and Anna Lourens

Mol. Diversity201923, 897




Catalysis of linear alkene metathesis by Grubbs-type ruthenium alkylidene complexes containing hemilabile α,α-diphenyl-(monosubstituted-pyridin-2-yl)methanolato ligands

Tegene T. Tole, Johan H.L. Jordaan and Hermanus C.M. Vosloo

Beilstein J. Org. Chem.201915, 194



Kinetic evaluation of the hydroformylation of the post-metathesis product 7-tetradecene using a bulky phosphite-modified rhodium catalyst

Nicholas C.C. Breckwoldt, Neill J. Goosen, Hermanus C.M. Vosloo and Percy van der Gryp

React. Chem. Eng., 20194, 695



Biomimetic Cu/Nitroxyl catalyst systems for selective alcohol oxidation

Lindie Marais and Andrew J. Swarts

Catalysts20199, 395




Effect of nanoparticle metal composition: mono- and bimetallic gold/copper dendrimer stabilized nanoparticles as solvent-free styrene oxidation catalysts

Angelique Blanckenberg, Gerbrandt Kotze, Andrew J. Swarts and Rehana Malgas-Enus

J. Nanopart. Res.201820, 44




Synthesis and Application of the Transition Metal Complexes of α-Pyridinyl Alcohols, α-Bipyridinyl Alcohols, α,α’-Pyridinyl Diols and α,α’-Bipyridinyl Diols in Homogeneous Catalysis

Tegene Tole, Johannes Jordaan and Hermanus Vosloo

Molecules201823, 896



Analysis of reaction mixtures of perhydro-dibenzyltoluene using two-dimensional gas chromatography and single quadrupole gas chromatography

Phillimon Modisha, Johan Jordaan, Andreas Bosmann, Peter Wasserscheid and Dmitri Bessarabov

Int. J. Hydrogen Energy2018, 43, 5620




Oligomerisasie van langerketting 1-alkene in die teenwoordigheid van Cp2MCl2-metalloseen-, meer komplekse Zr-metalloseen- en tridentaat bis(imino)piridienyster(II)-katalisatorsisteme

Frans Marx, Esna Pieters and Hermanus Vosloo

LitNet Akademies201815, 1



Rigid polyurethane foams from unrefined crude glycerol and technical lignins

Louis Muller, Sanette Marx, Hermanus Vosloo, Elvis Fosso-Kankeu and Idan Chiyanzu

Polym. Renewable Resour. 20189, 111




Dissipative Particle Dynamics Investigation of the Transport of Salicylic Acid through a Simulated In Vitro Skin Permeation Model

Daniel Otto, Johann Combrinck, Anja Otto, Louwrens Tiedt and Malgardt de Villiers

Pharmaceuticals201811, 134



All-atomistic molecular dynamics (AA-MD) studies and pharmacokinetic performance of PAMAM-dendrimer-furosemide delivery systems

Daniel Otto and Melgardt de Villiers

Int. J. Pharm.2018547, 545



Poly(amidoamine) Dendrimers as a Pharmaceutical Excipient. Are We There yet?

Daniel Otto and Melgardt de Villiers

J. Pharm. Sci., 2018107, 75



Catalytic oxidation of alcohols with novel non-heme N 4-tetradentate manganese(II) complexes

Vincent Vermaak, Desmond A. Young and Andrew J. Swarts

Dalton Trans.201847, 16534




Phenylacetylene polymerisation mediated by cationic cyclometallated palladium(II) complexes bearing benzylidene 2, 6-diisopropylphenylamine and its derivatives as ligands

M. Cassiem Joseph, Andrew J. Swarts and Selwyn F. Mapolie

Dalton Trans.47, 12209




A bis (pyridyl)-N-alkylamine/Cu(I) catalyst system for aerobic alcohol oxidation

Lindie Marais, Jordi Burés, Johan Jordaan, Selwyn Mapolie and Andrew J. Swarts

Org. Biomol. Chem.201715, 6926




Application of Halloysite Clay Nanotubes as a Pharmaceutical Excipient

Raghuvara Yendluri, Daniel Otto, Melgardt de Villiers, Vladimir Vinokurov and Yuri Lvov

Int. J. Pharm.2017521, 267



Solid State Concerns during Drug Discovery and Development: Thermodynamic and Kinetic Aspects of Crystal Polymorphism and the Special Cases of Concomitant Polymorphs, Co-Crystals and Glasses

Daniel Otto and Melgardt de Villiers

Current Drug Discovery Technologies201714, 72



Technological evaluation of organic solvent nanofiltration for the recovery of homogeneous hydroformylation catalysts

Waylin Peddie, Jacobus van Rensburg, Hermanus Vosloo and Percy van der Gryp

Chem. Eng. Res. Des.2017121, 219



Synthesis of high-performance superabsorbent glycerol acrylate-cross-linked poly (acrylic acid)

Aliyu Mohammed, Desmond Young and Hermanus Vosloo

Res. Chem. Intermed.201743, 2187



Polyol preparation by liquefaction of technical lignins in crude glycerol

Louis Muller, Sanete Marx and Hermanus Vosloo

J. Renewable Mater.20175, 67



Synthesis and Application of Novel Ruthenium Catalysts for High Temperature Alkene Metathesis

Tegene Tole,Jean du Toit, Cornelia van Sittert, Johan Jordaan and Hermanus Vosloo

Catalysts20177, 22



Synthesis Characterization and Biological Activities of Coordination Compounds of 4-Hydroxy-3-nitro-2H-chromen-2-one and Its Aminoethanoic Acid and Pyrrolidine-2-carboxylic Acid Mixed Ligand Complexes

Temitayo Aiyelabola, Ezekiel Akinkunmi, Efere Obuotor, Idowu Olawuni, David Isabirye and Johan Jordaan

Bioinorg. Chem. Appl.2017, 9


Structural Assignment of Commercial Polyisobutylene Succinic Anhydride-based Surfactants

Marina van der Merwe, Marilé Landman, Petrus van Rooyen, Johannes Jordaan and Daniel Otto

J. Surfactants Deterg.201720, 193