Unisa’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) recently launched a state-of-the-art hollow-fibre membrane spinning system at the university’s Science Campus.
Hollow-fibre membranes are tubular devices used as filters to purify water and wastewater. Water treatment companies use a variety of other water and water treatment technologies but few offer the advantages of these membranes.
Executive dean of CSET Professor Bhekie Mamba said obtaining these machines to make hollow-fibre membranes will enable Unisa to offer advanced training on membrane technology relevant to water and wastewater treatment, and thus generate highly skilled graduates who will serve the communities better.
“Moreover, it will enable Unisa to embark on offering solutions to water-quality challenges. This is because Unisa will be able to produce these devices locally, on a large scale, and supply them to water and wastewater treatment plants,” Mamba said.
Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya said Unisa is investing resources in research in the development of water-purification technologies.
“For this reason, Unisa has been at the forefront among its peers globally in developing appropriate and relevant technologies that are affordable and relevant to our communities in our country and in the region. As we speak, laboratories at Unisa’s Science Campus are well equipped with state-of-the-art research facilities that enable researchers to engage in high-quality research in almost all fields, including water quality.”
Elethu Themba Combined School in Johannesburg South spends R70 000 a year on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking meals twice a day for 1 600 pupils.
From 2020, that money will instead be spent on desperately needed learning resources and school maintenance, according to deputy headmaster Muraga Sadiki.
This will be possible when the school, situated near the Jackson informal settlement where most of its pupils live, starts using biogas produced through a project led by Unisa’s Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability (IDEAS) and the Unisa chapter of the student organisation Engineers without Borders.
Once the new biodigesters are up and running next year, LPG will be replaced with methane made from cow manure obtained from a nearby farm, either for free or for a fair exchange, says Kamogelo Sehoole, a BSc Hons chemistry student and member of Engineers without Borders. “For example, we could take the effluent from the digester back to the farm because it makes very good fertiliser.”