Competition winners; Dr Oberlander and his team, from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences of the University of Pretoria. Their commitment alongside others has ensured the longevity of the oldest water distiller, acquired in 1993 and operating for 31 years, at 4 Liters per hour with bi-distillation capability.

Labotec, in collaboration with Elga LabWater held a competition seeking the oldest laboratory water purification system in South Africa, aiming to honour the legacy and durability of these essential systems. After a thorough search, Dr. Kenneth Oberlander representing the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria emerged as the distinguished winner, showcasing the remarkable resilience of their water purification system, which has dutifully served for over three decades. This victory highlights not only the University of Pretoria’s commitment to excellence but also the enduring importance of reliable water purification systems in scientific research and academia.

Dedication from the Team

Dr. Oberlander’s win underscores the dedication of his team, including Ramokone Mothwa, Darky Modishane, Sine Ntshangase, Randall Josephs, and Magda Nel, who served as the Retired Tech Assistant. Their commitment alongside others has ensured the longevity of the oldest water distiller, acquired in 1993 and operating for 31 years, at 4 liters per hour with bi-distillation capability. This equipment is pivotal to the Plant and Soil Sciences department’s operations, consistently producing solutions and media crucial for plant and soil research, servicing the entire Plant Science section. Magda Nel recalling its relocation, highlights its mounting on the wall and the efficiency of its double boilers. Challenges such as calcrete buildup due to calcium-rich hot water necessitate regular cleaning, mitigated by annual servicing to maintain optimal performance and longevity.

A Promise of Renewal

In recognition of UP’s Plant and Soil Sciences Department’s enduring commitment to scientific excellence, the team has decided that their old distiller has been working so well that they will be keeping it, but replacing their other units with a new Elga system. With this transition to a new Elga PURELAB Chorus 2 Plus, renowned for its versatility across a wide spectrum of applications, including feed to ultra-pure water systems, reagent preparation, buffer and media formulation, as well as supporting general chemistry, electrochemistry, and tissue and cell culture research. This upgrade signifies a significant advancement from the technology of water systems 31 years ago. The Waterstill systems of the past were characterized by high electricity usage due to boiling water, significant water wastage, inability to use water immediately after boiling, and lack of control over pyrogens. In contrast, Elga water systems of today offer low electricity usage, lower water wastage with up to 28% water recovery, immediate usable water without heating, and effective removal of pyrogens through filtration.

A Lasting Legacy

As the competition comes to an end, Dr. Oberlander and his team’s victory stands not only as proof of their purification system’s strength but also as a celebration of scientific dedication and innovation. In a changing world with technology advancing, acknowledging the pioneers of the past reminds us of the legacy of excellence in scientific pursuit.