Young engineers set to impress with the Freedom Won Range.

Posted on September 29, 2023

Traditionally, the university's final year laboratories and student projects relied on lead acid batteries, until a sponsorship from the LiFePO4 battery manufacturer, Freedom Won, changed the landscape on the 17th of August 2023. The donation of Freedom Won 12V 100Ah batteries and a LiTE 5/4 model marked the inception of a shift towards a lithium iron phosphate-powered laboratory.

In the pursuit of solving real-world challenges, the university's final-year electrical engineering students engage in design projects that transcend theory to become tangible solutions. Professor Johan Hanekom, a prominent figure within the faculty, elucidated that among the almost 250 students enrolled for their final year project module, the new LiFePO4 batteries will be instrumental in energising laboratories and projects.

The transition from lead acid to LiFePO4 isn't merely a shift between outdated and modern technology; it's a multifaceted upgrade. Emphasizing safety and longevity, LiFeEPO4 batteries surpass lead acid counterparts in both aspects. They’re inherently safer in nature, have reduced maintenance requirements, and their extended operational lifespan underscore the meticulous considerations that have gone into this transformation. Notably, the sleek design of the Freedom Won battery ranges seamlessly integrate into the laboratory, a far cry from the days of a bulky battery room housing a solitary unit.

The university's final-year students meticulously transition their projects from theoretical constructs to practical systems. For three of these students, the newfound access to clean energy stands as a pivotal asset in advancing their respective projects. This shift to cutting-edge energy technology not only powers devices but also charges the atmosphere of innovation and progress within the university's educational journey.

Tafadzwa Musariri, a 23-year-old enthusiast, aspires to develop his own Electric Vehicle that can stand on par with the specialised racing vehicles seen in Formula 1. He is working on the design of a cutting-edge battery-fed single-phase inverter, employing a series connection of four batteries in a 48V DC battery bank to generate a 220V AC output. This innovative inverter is tailored to power various household appliances. Tafadzwa's inspiration stems from his study leader, Professor Michael Gitau, who firmly believes that South Africa's future electricity needs will predominantly rely on the private sector.

On the other hand, Carol Senyatsi, a 22-year-old native of Limpopo, is developing a solar-powered UPS system specifically designed to address the challenges posed by load shedding. Carol attributes her inspiration to her sister, who is also an engineer, as well as the prevailing power blackouts in South Africa. Her passion for mathematics and her fascination with the intricate aspects of engineering drive her to create solutions that offer practical and enjoyable complexities.

"I don’t want to be surrounded by broken things," remarks Louis Chabangu, a 23-year-old with an inquisitive mind. During his younger years, he displayed a penchant for repairing malfunctioning appliances, showcasing his innate curiosity and skilfulness. Now, Louis has taken his talents to a new level, working on a cutting-edge isolated current-fed full bridge DC to DC converter. This innovative device interfaces seamlessly with batteries, enabling it to supply power to motor-controlled, industrial-grade applications.

No longer content with merely fixing broken items, he has set his sights on a grander ambition: to revolutionize the way industries are powered - empowering them with efficient and sustainable energy solutions.

Currently, South African businesses and industries rely on off-grid solutions to avoid loss in production during power cuts. The large inverters that form part of these solutions are largely imported, however as these young engineers have proven the country has the capabilities to design these kinds of systems.

Freedom Won believes that by empowering students at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, this will inspire more electrical engineering students to partake in researching energy solutions.

“Supporting young engineers allows a better future to start with a sound foundation. With resource constraints, even a talented person cannot go further. By giving back to the engineering community, Freedom Won is committed to being the backbone for these young engineers who will build a better South Africa,” says Freedom Won’s non-executive director, Professor Alice Chan.


From left: Freedom Won’s non-executive director, Prof. Alice Chan with University of Pretoria final year Electrical Engineering students –Tafadzwa Musariri, Louis Chabangu, Carol Senyatsi and Prof. Johan Hanekom.

From left: Freedom Won’s non-executive director, Prof. Alice Chan with University of Pretoria final year Electrical Engineering students – Louis Chabangu, Tafadzwa Musariri and Carol Senyatsi.

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