Dr. Caroline Rosemyya Kwawu and Dr. Michael Baah Mensah of the Department of Chemistry have been awarded the Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Postdoctoral Fellowships 2018.
The Leverhulme-Royal Society Africa Postdoctoral Fellowship follows the successful implementation of the Leverhulme – Royal Society Africa award and is intended for early-career researchers who completed their Ph.D. studies under the earlier Leverhulme programme. Dr. Kwawu did her Ph.D. studies on the “Molecular Modelling for Energy Efficiency” Leverhulme project won by Professor Evans Adei and Dr. Richard Tia in 2012 while Dr. Mensah worked for his Ph.D. under Professor Johannes A. M. Awudza’s Leverhulme and RS-DFID projects on “Materials for Solar Energy Applications” (2010 – 2014).
The postdoctoral fellowship awards are up to fifty thousand British Pounds Sterling (£50,000) each for a duration of one year.
Dr. Caroline Kwawu will conduct research in the area of Computational Materials Chemistry on ‘Renewable Energy Production from Cocoa Pod Husk’ under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Tia at the Department of Chemistry KNUST and Professor Nora de Leeuw of the School of Chemistry of Cardiff University in the UK. Life on our planet is under threat from rising carbon dioxide levels mainly from fossil-based fuels and rapid industrialization. There is thus an urgent need to mitigate carbon dioxide production by depending on non-fossil energy e.g. biofuels. Ghana is currently the second largest producer of cocoa and lignin from the husk of cocoa has the potential for fuel production. Lignin is currently the only known natural source for aromatic compounds, however efficient catalysts are required for these processes. That is where Dr. Kwawu’s expertise as a computational materials chemist comes in. Under the mentorship and supervision of Dr. Richard Tia and Prof. Evans Adei, her research will employ computational chemistry techniques to develop efficient and cost-effective catalysts for the conversion of lignin from cocoa pod husk, an abundant resource in Ghana, into fuels.
Dr. Michael Baah Mensah’s research will focus on the ‘Decontamination of Mercury Polluted Water and Agricultural Soils in Ghana using Nanotechnology’. Pollution of water and agricultural lands with heavy metals has become a serious environmental issue especially due to their toxicity and tendency to bioaccumulation. One of the most lethal heavy metals in nature is mercury. Illegal small scale gold mining, popularly known as “Galamsey” in Ghana (derived from the terms “gather them and sell”) is a major source of mercury pollution in Ghana. High cost of water treatment has been reported by the Ghana Water Company due to galamsey. Recent remedy by government is to regulate importation and use of mercury and also introduce mercury-free gold extraction methods in the country. However, these efforts are limited since mercury persists in water bodies and soils and therefore needs to be removed to reduce its effect on human health and the environment. Dr. Mensah will employ expertise in Nanotechnology and Physical Chemistry to develop efficient nanomaterials and study adsorption of mercury from water and agricultural soil. Dr. Mensah will be collaborating with Dr. David Lewis of the School of Materials, the University of Manchester, UK, and under the mentorship and supervision of Prof. Johannes A. M. Awudza of the Department of Chemistry, KNUST.
KNUST researchers contributing to solve real-world problems on the global scale!