Nano-pollutants laboratories

The nano-pollutants laboratories are used to undertake water-quality research, specifically looking at environmental and wastewater resources. The research focuses on identifying and characterising sources of water pollution, and assessing the fate and ecological effects of the pollutants in water. The research primarily focuses on priority pollutants in the context of poorly understood emerging pollutants in South Africa. 

Furthermore, the facility is key in research that is aimed at formulating solutions for water quality challenges, for instance bioremediation solutions. 

For the characterisation of nanopollutants, the facility houses the highly specialised nanoparticle tracking analysis unit which is capable of detecting and quantifying nanoscale materials, and analysing their size properties and concentration in water samples. 

Contact Person

Dr Melusi Thwala

Technical Specifications


Nanoparticle tracking analysis unit, sonicating bath, pharmaceutical fridges (4⁰C), walk-in fridge (4⁰C) UV-vis, simulated wastewater treatment plant, water purification system (15 mΩ.cm), Ultrapure water system, temperature-compensated centrifuge, force convection lab oven.

Key Concept

Nano generally means very small size, about a billionth of a meter. The width of a human hair is approximately 80 000-100 000 nanometers, whereas a sheet of paper is about 100 000 nm thick. Generally when materials are at nanoscale, their physical and chemical properties are remarkably altered. In nanotechnology it is this change in properties that can be manipulated for product development, either for new products or applications, or enhancing the performance of old products. For example, nanomaterials can improve the protective capacity of sunscreens, and can prolong the storage life of food in food packaging.