Page 80 - UCT Research Report 2011

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UCT Research Report '11
on the joint committee on urban drainage of the International
Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research and
the IWA.
Among the group’s chief participants are Professor Andrew
Spiegel from the Department of Social Anthropology and
Dr Kevin Winter from the Department of Environmental
and Geographical Science. As Professor Spiegel notes,
“Inter-disciplinarity is crucial. My work over some years
with Professor Armitage and Dr Winter has provided me
with certain insights into the technical problems engineers
face, but without my having to become an engineer
or environmental scientist myself. It has also enabled
the two of them to begin to understand the centrality of
social science approaches to facilitating the kinds of
interventions they plan.”
The group is currently occupied with two major projects,
one concerning creating alternative sewerage systems,
with a particular focus on informal settlements, and
the other on water-sensitive urban design. Both are
partially funded and fully endorsed by the Water Research
It is common knowledge that sewerage systems in informal
settlements have been the cause of many divisive actions
and debates. The Urban Water Group is seeking to
change that by focusing their collaborative approach
on a sustained monitoring, evaluation, and development
project that has the potential to impact 300 to 400
informal settlement sites. Based chiefly in the Barcelona
settlement of Gugulethu for the past four years, the project
attempts both to understand why the installation of flushing
toilet systems in townships tends to be operationally
unsuccessful, and to provide a workable model in the
near future.
The group proposes to pilot a settled sewerage scheme in
the Barcelona district, where specially designed tanks will
filter out solid waste. Key to the project’s success will be
fostering a janitorial relationship with the City of Cape Town
in order to retain facility maintenance. In support of the
group’s research, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
has made funding available for two university fellowships
over the next few years to tackle the challenges that lie
ahead, including navigating the necessary municipal
processes, and addressing the shortage of trained
personnel at maintenance level.
Their second ongoing research project works with
the International Sustainable Drain System project
– a Construction Industry Research and Information
Association (CIRIA) initiative. The group is seeking
alternatives to conventional storm water drainage systems
by creating more eco-friendly drainage solutions. All three
researchers have drafted a document laying out national
guidelines and best practice for water drainage systems,
currently in its final draft prior to publication.
There can be no doubt that creatively fostering collective
solutions can combat collective problems. As Professor
Armitage explains, “Our projects seek to re-imagine Cape
Town as a space where water is seen as the city’s most
valuable resource.”
Research grouping
associated with this theme
Crystallization and Precipitation Research Unit
Industrial crystallisation research began in the Department of Chemical Engineering in 2000 and the Crystallization
and Precipitation Research Unit was formally accredited by UCT in 2006. Although crystallisation and precipitation
are some of the oldest unit operations known, understanding of these processes is still very limited. In this
context, the main aim of the unit is to advance existing fundamental knowledge in the fields of crystallisation
and precipitation, especially related to mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. Particular interests of the
research group are modelling and simulation approaches to industrial research, such as the particle rate process
approach for modelling of industrial crystallisation processes, aqueous chemistry modelling, and computational
fluid dynamics modelling. All these modelling techniques are aimed at deepening the understanding of these
chemically complex, multi-phase processes. The ultimate objective of furthering this scientific understanding is to
optimise and control industrial crystallisation and precipitation processes, including treatment of effluent streams.
Another interest of the research unit is the development of eutectic freeze crystallisation (EFC) for the treatment
of hypersaline mining brines. The unit is also involved in the development and presentation of various continuing
professional education courses that satisfy the demand for skills in this area, from both an industrial and an
academic standpoint.
Director: Professor A.E. Lewis E-mail: Web:
crystal/ or