Research Leader

Prof Pieter van Zyl

Mnr Derik van der Westhuizen   Pieter van Zyl completed his PhD in Chemistry in 2007 after which he was appointed as a senior lecturer and co-head of the Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group (ACRG) at the NWU. He was promoted to Full Professor in 2019. His research focusses on ground-based in-situ atmospheric measurements, but research related to laboratory investigations, satellite observations and modelling is also conducted. He is currently node manager of the atmospheric node of BIOGRIP (Biogeochemistry Research Infrastructure Project) – a research infrastructure platform funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) within the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR) framework; convenor of the steering committee of the IGAC (International Global Atmospheric Chemistry) and WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) endorsed international DEBITS (Deposition of Biogeochemical Important Trace Species) project; as well as co-chair of the IGAC Southern Hemisphere Working Group steering committee. He is co-author of >90 publications in ISI accredited peer reviewed journals (excluding peer-reviewed conference proceedings) and 3 book chapters. He is a South African National Research Foundation (NRF) rated scientist.

About the research group

Chromium has 2 types of projects:

1. Environmentally related


  • Cr(VI) generation during sample preparation
  • Cr(VI) generation during production steps
  • Cr(VI) generation during off-gas combustion
  • Cr(VI) association with cations in bag filter dust
  • Optimization of aqueous Cr(VI) reduction during FeCr recovery out of slag
  • Aqueous electrochemical reduction of Cr(VI) as an alternative to chemical reduction


2. Process related


  • Development of alternative chromite pre- reduction processes, including catalytic reduction
  • Beneficiation of chrome ore by alterning the Cr:Fe ratio
  • Development of an alternative analytical method to determine chromite pre-reduction
  • Recovery of Cr-units out of ferrrochrome slag and UG2 waste