VUT DigiResearch

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Determining South African National Parks' contribution to sustainable development goals in host communities: A case study of Kruger National Park
(Vaal University of Technology, 2023-03) Mabibibi, Mashudu Andra; Thwala, K. C., Dr.; Dube, K., Prof.
The study examines and evaluates the Kruger National Park’s role in assisting its host communities to meet their Sustainable Development Goals agenda. The study is triggered by the fact that the tourism industry is criticised for its unsustainable practices and exploitative proclivities. The existence of knowledge gaps on how the KNP operations and activities fullfil and lead to the realisation of SDGs, therefore, warrants research so as to generate information and strategies that are beneficial not only to the KNP only, but also to the communities that are located in its proximity. The study conducted between March and October 2021, used a case study reseach design in a mixed method approach to answer the research questions. The emperical work comprised of in-depth interviews (=30) with key informants identified by KNP gatekeppers; surveys (=70) with community members; a secondary literatire review; and observations of community projects done by host communities - artefacts sold within and outside the park, infrastructure developments in communities and agricultural practices in host communities. Thematic analysis was used to catergorise the data according to the corresponding SDG categories. The study found that despite hurdles such as climate change, diminished funding, and COVID-19, among other such factors, the Kruger National Park aided communities in meeting at least 15 of the 17 SDGs goals. The various projects of the KNP address all the SDGs except for SDG7 on affordable and clean energy and SDG 14 on life below water where no identified project could be directly linked to those SDGs. It was also found that some of the KNP’s flagship projects were ensuring economic emancipation, delivering quality education, and alleviating poverty and inequality, all of which interlink with conservation and environmental protection. The projects have also fostered some sense of ownership by local communities, a move which has helped improve relations between the park and host communities. The study recommends continuous monitoring of the role that protected areas can play in addressing the 17 SDGs. Continuous monitoring will allow for necessary interventions to be made at the policy and practical levels.
Surface modification of biochar composite made from tea waste for the removal of selected organic pollutants from aqueous medium
(Vaal University of Technology, 2022-11) Mashoene, Tumelo Nortica; Lawal, A., Dr.; Taka, A. Leudjo, Dr.; Klink, M., Prof.
Domestic, agricultural, and industrial waste has been investigated as a substitute for activated carbon adsorbents. This research converted waste tea-based adsorbent, coupled with reduced graphene oxide, and further modified with deep eutectic solvents. This innovative biochar modification was investigated to overcome the limitations of the tea-waste biochar nanocomposite alone and the removal of organic contaminants from simulated wastewater. Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM–EDS), Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller (BET) surface area analysis, and pH at point of zero charge (pH PZC) was used to characterize the synthesized materials (biochar, biochar/reduced graphene oxide (biochar/rGO), biochar/reduced graphene oxide/deep eutectic solvent-cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (biochar/rGO/DES-CTAB), and biochar/reduced graphene oxide/deep eutectic solvent-glycerol (biochar/rGO/DES-glycerol)). The results showed that the principal material biochar was modified by a show of added functional groups and surface structural changes. The materials biochar, biochar/rGO, biochar/rGO/DES-CTAB, and biochar/rGO/DES-glycerol were applied for the removal of ZDV and phenol from the aqueous medium. Batch adsorption studies were conducted to optimize operating parameters such as adsorbent dose, solution pH, contact time, and initial concentration. Pseudo-first-order (PFO), Pseudo-second-order (PSO), and intraparticle diffusion (IPD) kinetic models were determined to investigate the mechanism of the adsorption process. The coefficient of correlation, R2, was used to determine the best fit of the kinetic models. The adsorption results showed that DES-glycerol-modified adsorbent was more efficient in removing the pollutants ZDV and phenol than biochar, biochar/rGO, and biochar/rGO/DES-CTAB adsorbents. In addition, the results showed that an acidic medium of pH 2.00 and a contact time of 1h30min and 30 min is sufficient for removing ZDV and phenol respectively, from an aqueous medium. The experimental data best fit into PSO models and assumed a variety of interactions between the adsorbent surface and adsorbate molecules and IPD wasn’t the only rate-determining step. The Langmuir and Freundlich models further examined the experimental data to assess the adsorbate-adsorbent interactions at equilibrium. Equilibrium experiments revealed that adsorption adhered to the Langmuir isotherm, demonstrating the homogeneity of adsorption sites. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the conversion and modification of common tea waste into a useful adsorbent for the remediation of organic contaminants from wastewater, thus creating an opening for the application of waste tea-based adsorbent in industrial settings.
Linking inventory management practices to inventory and warehouse performance in the retail industry in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces
(Vaal University of Technology, 2022-11) Jama, Moeketsi; Mafini, C., Prof.; Loury Okoumba, W. V., Dr.
The application of inventory management practices to improve inventory and warehouse performance is a critical concept in supply chain management. These activities are fundamental in contributing to the value creation of firms' supply networks. The present study investigated the link between inventory management practices, inventory performance and warehouse performance in the retail industry in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal provinces. The study used a quantitative approach based on a combination of correlation and survey design methods to examine the identified relationships. A total of 203 supply chain professionals selected from retail outlets in the Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal provinces participated in the survey. The collected data were analysed using the combination of Statistical Package for Social Sciences and the SMART PLS software. Major data analysis techniques employed in the study included descriptive statistics, Exploratory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling. The results show that the three inventory management practices: inventory investment, inventory control and ABC analysis, positively influence inventory performance. Two practices: inventory turnover optimisation and shrinkage prevention were statistically insignificant. Additionally, Inventory performance positively influenced wareho use performance. Theoretically, the study provides a comprehensive analysis and contributes to the literature on inventory and warehouse management in the retail industry in South Africa. Practically, the study facilitates more informed inventory and warehouse management problem diagnostics and decision-making by managers and supply chain professionals in the retail industry.
The influence of generation Y students' perceptions of brand communication, service quality and brand satisfaction on brand loyalty in technical and vocational education training colleges in Gauteng
(Vaal University of Technology, 2022-03-03) Ramuthivheli, Itani Listen; Dondolo, H. B., Prof.; Sharp, K. L., Dr.
Due to the rapidly evolving and dynamic nature of the South African higher education sector, it is critical that institutions communicate their brands to stakeholders to enhance their perception of the institution as a quality service provider. Despite this, little attention has been paid to the influence of brand communication, brand satisfaction and service quality on brand loyalty in higher education, particularly in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Research has demonstrated a positive relationship between brand communication, service quality, brand satisfaction and brand loyalty in the service sector; however, it is unknown whether such a relationship exists in the South African TVET sector. It is essential to investigate how Generation Y students perceive brand communication, brand satisfaction and service quality in the TVET sector in Gauteng. Five TVET colleges were used as a convenience sample to recruit 500 students. In each college, students were given a self-administered questionnaire to complete during class time. The data was analysed using various statistical methods, including exploratory factor analysis, descriptive statistical analysis, correlation analysis and structural equation modelling. The results of the study show that service quality and brand satisfaction have a strong positive influence on brand loyalty. However, the structural model results indicate that this study does not support a relationship between brand communication and brand loyalty. However, there was a significant influence of service quality on brand loyalty towards TVET colleges. In other words, students who have had positive experiences in contact with vocational colleges and are generally satisfied with the services they provide, will undoubtedly develop loyal inclinations towards them. The study also shows that brand loyalty is positively related to brand satisfaction. This study contributes to the body of knowledge by empirically testing a model of the factors influencing brand loyalty among Generation Y students in TVET colleges. The study shows that brand communication, service quality and customer satisfaction are important factors that influence brand loyalty.
Removal of Pb(II), Cu(II), Cd(II), Cr(VI), methylene blue dye (MB) and inhibition of bacteria growth using modified fennel seeds from aqueous solutions
(Vaal University of Technology, 2022) Mabungela, Ntandokazi; Naidoo, E. B., Prof.; Mtunzi, F., Prof.; Shooto, N. D., Dr.
Water contamination with pollutants like toxic heavy metals, dyes and pathogens is currently a global problem. Toxic heavy metals and dyes are not degradable and persist in environment, while pathogens are responsible for waterborne disease problem. Therefore, it is crucial to remove these pollutants from wastewater. Hence, this work reports mono, binary and ternary adsorption of copper-Cu(II), cadmium-Cd(II), lead-Pb(II), chromium-Cr(VI), methylene blue dye-MB and antimicrobial studies against Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and the resultant activated carbon (AC) was treated with potassium permanganate (KMNO4) from aqueous solution by pristine and modified fennel seeds. Pristine fennel seeds (PFS) were modified with acidic solution of hydrochloric acid (HCl), nitric acid (HNO3), sulphuric acid (H2SO4), phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and alkaline solutions of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). PFS were also carbonized at different temperature of 500, 600 and 700 ℃ and treated AC obtained with potassium permanganate (KMNO4). Lastly, fennel seeds were incorporated with iron(III) oxide nanoparticles (Fe2O3 NP), iron(III)-1,2,3,4-tetracarboxylic acid (Fe-TCA) and binary nanoparticles of CuO-ZnO in a ratio of 1:2 & 2:1. Fennel based adsorbents were characterized using Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy- (SEM-EDS), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Ultraviolet-Visible Spectroscopy (UV-Vis), Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), Thermogravimetric Analyser (TGA) and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET). The SEM results showed that the surface morphology of the fennel based adsorbents became more porous with cavities compared to PFS. The FTIR results revealed that the adsorbents surface had hydroxide (-OH), carbonyl (-C=O) and carboxyl (-COOH) functional groups. XRD results showed a diffraction peaks around 19 ⁰ and 23 ° which are attributed to the presence of cellulose. TEM images of the composites indicated deposits of nanoparticles on the surface of fennel seeds. TGA results showed a weight loss around 205-556 ℃ for PFS and 205-507 ℃ for composites and that was due to breakdown of lignocellulosic material in fennel seeds. The physicochemical characteristics such as cation exchange capacity (CEC) and Brunauer, Emmett and Teller (BET) surface area were enhanced after impregnation when compared with PFS. The adsorption of Cr(VI) and growth inhibition of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus on binary nanoparticles of CuO-ZnO were investigated. The binary CuO-ZnO nanoparticles were prepared through co-precipitation method. The highest adsorption capacity recorded at pH 2 and 308 K were 75.96 and 84.77 mg/g for FS/CuO-ZnO[1:2] and FS/CuO-ZnO[2:1], respectively. The antibacterial assays indicated that the materials are effective in preventing the growth of microbial growth. Removal and photo-degradation of methylene blue dye from aqueous solution using FS-NP and FS-TCA composites were examined. The maximum adsorption capacity recorded for PFS was 13.21 mg/g while for FS-NP and FS-TCA was 32.84 and 42.89 mg/g, respectively. PFS showed no activity for photocatalytic degradation properties while PF-NP and PF-TCA recorded 58.97 and 48.62 % efficiencies, respectively. The ternary removal of metal ions of copper Cu(II), lead Pb(II), and methylene blue (MB) dye on pure and acid treated fennel seeds biomaterials from aqueous solution by batch adsorption was investigated. Pure fennel seeds were labelled (PFS), nitric and sulphuric treated seeds were labelled (NAFS) and (SAFS) respectively. Adsorption data showed that all biomaterials had a higher affinity for MB dye more than Pb(II) and Cu(II) metal ions. The maximum adsorption capacities onto PFS were 6.834, 4.179 and 2.902 mg/g; NAFS 15.28, 14.44 and 4.475 mg/g; while for SAFS 19.81, 18.79 and 6.707 mg/g respective for MB dye, Pb(II) and Cu(II) ions. Binary adsorption of Copper (Cu(II)) and Chromium (Cr(VI)) from aqueous solution using activated carbon-AC and AC functionalized with KMnO4 derived from fennel seeds was examined. Activated carbon-AC from fennel seeds was obtained at different temperatures of 500, 600 and 700 °C and the results were named FS-500, FS-600 and FS-700. Thereafter, each sample was chemically treated with KMnO4 solution to obtain KMFS-500, KMFS-600 and KMFS-700. The results showed that the KMFS-700 and FS-700 adsorbed more than KMFS- 600, KMFS-500, FS-600 and FS-500 for both Cu(II) and Cr(VI) metals. The maximum adsorption capacity on FS-700 was 19.886 mg/g and 8.510 mg/g for Cu(II) and Cr(VI) whilst on FS-600 were 15, 423mg/g and 1.202 mg/g and on FS-500 were 16. 921mg/g and 1.722mg/g, respectively. The maximum adsorption capacity on KMFS-700 was 19.786 mg/g and 10.572 mg/g for Cu(II) and Cr(VI) whereas on KMFS-600 were 15, 735mg/g and 8.109 mg/g and on KMFS-500 were 17. 648 mg/g and 3.479mg/g, respectively. Binary adsorption of toxic metal ions of Cu(II) and Pb(II) from aqueous solution by pristine and modified fennel seeds was studied. Pristine fennel seeds (PFS) were chemically treated with acidic and alkaline solutions to develop modified adsorbents designated ATFS and BTFS respectively. The maximum uptake of Cu(II) and Pb(II) on PFS was 3.345 and 11.524 mg/g. While for ATFS 3.78 and 13.07 mg/g, and BTFS 8.143 and 14.85 mg/g, respectively Simultaneous removal of copper Cu(II), cadmium Cd(II), and methylene blue dye (MB) from an aqueous solution using PFS and modified fennel seeds was investigated. The pristine fennel seeds (PFS) were chemically treated with phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) solutions to produce H3FS and CaFS, respectively. The maximum adsorption capacity for Cu(II) by PFS, H3FS and CaFS was 7.208, 5.504, and 5.791 mg/g, respectively. For Cd (II) by PFS, H3FS and CaFS, it was 2.274, 5.021 and 12.3 mg/g, respectively. The maximum adsorption capacity of MB by PFS, H3FS and CaFS was 11.114, 4.071 and 18.468 mg/g. This thesis is written in an artile format.