Instrumental Access 2020
Midlands State UniversityDepartment of Chemical Technology
In Zimbabwe, building scientific capacity to address climate change
Meet our Awardee
Midlands State University is a public university established in 2000. Geographically located in the center of Zimbabwe, Midlands attracts students from across the country. With growing enrollment and interest in chemical technology, the Department of Chemical Technology has expanded its research profile since its founding. It is a research-driven department with a goal of using chemical technology to drive socio-economic development.
Research AreasResearch interests in the Department of Chemical Technology include natural products chemistry and drug development, electrochemistry, environmental monitoring and remediation, and computational chemistry.
The equipment we will receive will ensure that students will be able do meaningful research. It will go a long way in capacity-building, which is very important for our institution."
Capturing Carbon Dioxide: Gift Mehlana, PhD
Climate change caused by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a problem not just for Zimbabwe, but for the entire world. Carbon dioxide levels are higher now than they have been at any time during the last 800,000 years.
Still, Gift Mehlana, PhD, FLAIR fellow in the Department of Chemical Technology at Midlands State University, says that “we must also understand that a carbon-free environment is not possible in the near future.”
That’s why, he explains, his team is researching ways to mitigate the damage by recycling carbon dioxide to create other useful chemicals that don’t harm the environment.
“If we manage to capture carbon dioxide from the point of emissions, we will be able to tackle climate change and global warming,” he says.
Although Dr. Mehlana’s work focuses on manufacturing chemicals, his team is developing clean technologies to advance their work. The small molecules they use contain ingredients that react with greenhouse gases to transform them into chemicals that the industry can use to build everyday products.
One such chemical is formic acid, which is a building block for a number of goods like livestock feed and perfume. Using a specialized surface developed in their lab, Dr. Mehlana and his team capture carbon dioxide and cause a chemical reaction to produce the acid.
“To date, we have prepared a number of novel materials that we have applied in the capturing and conversion of carbon dioxide to formic acid,” he says.
But Dr. Mehlana is hampered by the lack of equipment to analyze samples. Currently, the lab’s samples are sent outside of Zimbabwe, where they can be analyzed and then sent back. With equipment from Seeding Labs, analysis will no longer be an obstacle to developing technology for recycling carbon dioxide.
For Dr. Mehlana, eliminating this barrier will allow his lab to get to work solving environmental issues.
“Chemists should be at the forefront in carrying out research that is meant to address the global environmental problems that we are facing,” he says.
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The potential of students and staff will be boosted by this equipment because a shortage of equipment is our barrier to research and learning."
About the DepartmentLocation: Gweru, Zimbabwe
Year Established: 2000
Students Impacted Annually: 200 undergraduate, 50 graduate
Why Instrumental Access?Years of economic challenges in Zimbabwe have hampered the university's ambitions to sufficiently equip the Department of Chemical Technology. Equipment from Instrumental Access will support research and teaching labs, allowing more hands-on education for students.
Shipment StatusIn transit to Zimbabwe
About Instrumental Access
To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.