Professor Leslie Petrick

professor of chemistry at the University of the Western Cape: Washing water clean with waste ash from coal

4 December 2018


NSTF-Water Research Commission Award: towards achieving sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions with demonstrated leadership and impact by an individual or an organisation
A professor of chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), she has dedicated the past 10 years to researching water chemistry and effluent remediation in search of a way to change waste into something useful.


A professor of chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), she has dedicated the past 10 years to researching water chemistry and effluent remediation in search of a way to change waste into something useful.

“I am a material scientist, so my primary occupation is developing new materials,” says Petrik. “I was working in the chemical engineering department at the University of Cape Town, creating heterogeneous catalysts, specifically zeolites, for different applications. I brought this thread of work with me when I started working at UWC and we discovered that we could convert fly ash into zeolites.”

The discovery was significant. It meant that instead of using expensive commercial chemicals to create catalysis, she and her team could use the waste left over from burning coal to achieve the same goal.