Page 119 - UCT Research Report 2011

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The DST/NRF Centre for
Excellence – c*change – has
been awarded a SARChI Chair
in Catalysis, which is expected
to boost the scientific output
of the centre. The chair, which
has not yet been filled, will be
created in the field of preparation
and characterisation of nano-
materials and assist various activities throughout the
centre, with the expectation that this will provide a
mechanism of bringing the research of c*change to the
level of world-class excellence.
Bioprocess Engineering
Professor Susan Harrison was
appointed to strengthen her
contribution to an integrated
approach to optimisation and
modelling of bioprocess systems
and sub-processes for use in
bioprocesses for economic,
environmental and social benefit.
The research programme
centres on the establishment of
generic knowledge at the molecular and metabolic,
unit operation, and the sustainable process levels,
for benefit across specific bioprocesses. These
contribute across water treatment, human health,
minerals beneficiation, resource productivity and
renewable resources. Professor Harrison has actively
enhanced the university’s footprint in bioprocess
engineering research, through expanding the group
of researchers working in the field, enhancing the
research infrastructure and the capacity to conduct
research and train students as well as through
knowledge generation.
Professor Harrison’s group is viewed as one of the
top four internationally in mineral bioleaching, among
the most respected in algal biotechnology in South
Africa, and she is well recognised for her bioprocess
engineering expertise.
Minerals Beneficiation
Professor Jean-Paul Franzidis
has been involved in mineral
processing research for more
than 25 years. In the 1980s,
he led a research programme
funded by the National Energy
Council investigating the poor
flotation characteristics of
South African coals. In 1996,
he joined the Julius Kruttschnitt
Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) at the University
of Queensland, Australia, to lead the world’s largest
collaborative mineral processing research project, the
AMIRA P9 project.
In 2007, Professor Franzidis returned to UCT to direct
the newly formed Minerals to Metals Signature Theme
and in 2008, he was awarded the SARChI Chair in
Minerals Beneficiation.
Chairs associated with this theme
to establish South Africa as one of the few nations that
export high-value products into the growing international
hydrogen and fuel cells markets.
HySA/Catalysis, based at UCT and co-hosted by Mintek, is
one of three HySA Centres of Competence that have been
mandated by the South African government to develop
the competency, skilled workforce, and ultimately the
manufacturing industry in South Africa.
“The major economies – the USA and Canada, Europe,
and Japan – are leading by about 20 years, so the HySA
programme’s first objective is to leapfrog the technology
development and prepare for commercialisation when the
markets begin to grow,” says HySA/Catalysis Director, Dr
Olaf Conrad.
As with Minerals to Metals and CeBER, the South African
industry has to learn to add value later down the production
chain, adds Dr Conrad.
“The mandate of HySA/Catalysis, in keeping with that
of the DST, is that South Africa should build the
competence base to create products that are home-
grown. And so bring investment to South Africa by
setting up businesses that use our mineral wealth to
create higher, value-added opportunities.”
Whether it’s improving on existing processes or exploration
the next generation of green technologies, researchers
across the university are pushing the envelope. If they get it
right, South Africa will soon be recognised as more than just
a wellspring of minerals, but also a true modern economy.