Cutting edge research leads to commercialisation of ultrafiltration membrane technology
The launch of the South Africa’s first locally produced ultrafiltration membrane technology will take place on the 29th October 2009 in Somerset West. Most membranes used in South Africa have been imported at great cost. With this in mind, a joint research project, funded by the Water Research Commission (WRC), was initiated in 1996 and succeeded to develop suitable and cost-effective, locally produced, ultrafiltration membranes and filtration systems for use in water treatment and industrial water management. These ultrafiltration purification systems are capable of removing particulate matter, colour, bacteria (such as cholera), viruses and parasitic micro-organisms without the need to add chemicals’’ says Mr Andrew Theunissen, Chairman of Ikusasa Water, the company manufacturing these membranes: “Purification systems using these membranes will be able to meet any drinking water supply need of communities and advanced treatment requirements for industrial applications. The membranes are based on the most advanced local and international technology” he adds. The first large drinking water purification demonstration plant based on the locally manufactured membranes, an 800 000 litres per day plant, will be constructed for Overberg Water in the New Year.
A ground-breaking research objective has been realised by commercialising the technology through Ikusasa Water, a visionary, fully BEE Company located in Somerset West. ‘Ikusasa Water produces cutting edge membrane water treatment technologies through its modern production facilities, highly qualified and experienced personnel as well as University research backing via its liaison with the University of Stellenbosch’ says Gerhard Offringa, Marketing Manager at Ikusasa Water. These technologies include, among other, reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, conventional filtration, dissolved air flotation, activated carbon adsorption and advanced oxidation, including mixed oxidants and ozonation.
The WRC funded the research conducted by the Institute of Polymer Science at the University of Stellenbosch. With rigorous tests carried out over four years it was proven that membranes consistently produce high-quality water. Ikusasa obtained the licence from the WRC to produce capillary ultrafiltration membranes and membrane systems developed over a period of ten years by the University of Stellenbosch. ‘This is the first technology to be commercialised immediately after research has been completed’ says Lawrence Baloyi, Intellectual Property Manager at the WRC.
Funding from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) further assisted this BEE Company to establish their local manufacturing capability. Innovative research by the University, research funding by the WRC, seed funding by the DTI and the entrepreneurial spirit of Theunissen and his team makes this a model example of how a new technology can be taken from a research concept into actual production and use.
The manufacturing facility will be jointly inaugurated by Mr Jay Bhagwan, Director, WRC and Prof Eugene Cloete, Dean of Science, University of Stellenbosch. The technology and its development, as well as the manufacturing facility, will further be presented by the Ikusasa Water production team.
contact : Hlengiwe Cele
Knowledge Dissemination Officer
+27 12 3309006
For further information
Dr Gerhard Offringa
Tel: 021 855 3755
Cell: 083 290 7223