A research partnership between petrochemicals group Sasol and the University of Cape Town (UCT) has led to the invention of a new device, called the Magnetometer, that enables scientists to examine ferro-metallic catalysts.
The researchers, including Michael Claeys and Eric van Steen of UCT and Jan van de Loosdrecht and Kobus Visagie of Sasol Technology, expected the fully computer-controlled device to add great value to research in a number of fields, including nanotechnology.
Sasol noted that catalysts such as cobalt are used in the production of a variety of fuels and play a key role in terms of product performance.
“The device uses a large electromagnet to magnetise the catalyst, which is placed in a small reactor in which industrial conditions with high pressure and temperature can be realised. The purpose of this area of research is to examine the physical changes that catalysts undergo during process situations which have an effect on catalyst performance,” Sasol explained.
The Magnetometer exploits the magnetic properties of these catalysts to obtain the required information.
The researchers have filed a joint international application to patent the device.