SA’s First Capillary Ultrafiltration is inaugurated
The South African water sector will now benefit from locally-produced membrane and filtration systems for portable and industrial water. The Water Research Commission (WRC) prides itself in having conducted research that has immediately taken the commercial route. It was a memorable day with various dignitaries attending the event held at the premises of the Ikusasa Water factory. The first locally-produced Capillary Ultrafiltration (CUF) membrane technology was officially inaugurated at Somerset West on 29 October 2009.
The manufacturing facility was 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, was further presented by the Ikusasa Water production team.
After listening to various speeches by the Ikusasa Water(IW), Department of Water Affairs (DWA), WRC and University of Stellenbosch, the guests were taken around on an exciting tour within the factory to witness the full operation of the CUF.
The membranes are manufactured from polyether sulphone (PES) and have an outside diameter of 1.6 mm and a lumen (bore) diameter of 1.2 mm. The membranes are internally skinned which means that the feed water enters into the lumen and filters outwards under a pressure-driving force. They are housed in a module which is in a tube-in-shell form.
This is a joint research project by the University of Stellenbosch (US) and the Water Research Commission to locally produce membrane and filtration systems for potable water and industrial water management. The aim of the research was to produce suitable cost-effective systems to replace expensive imported equivalents.
Spearheading this groundbreaking ultrafiltration research since the early nineties were Prof Ed Jacobs, Prof Ron Sanderson and Prof Deon Koen from the University of Stellenbosch, and Prof Lingam Pillay from Durban University of Technology.
‘With the introduction of this new technology the clients will experience improved water quality since it provides primary treatment of non-saline water to improve safety, removing pathogens including bacteria’ says Dr Gerhard Offringa ,Ikusasa Water Marketing manager.
The technology produces water with turbidity of less than 0.2 NTU (number of transfer unit), independent of feed NTU. It also makes possible the removal of metal oxides: iron, manganese, aluminium and helps with the removal or reduction of colour. It is also suitable for pre-treatment of seawater and desalination and the treatment of industrial water and wastewater.
Ikusasa Water , a company based in Somerset West, enjoys continued research backing, via its liaison with the University of Stellenbosch, to keep its operations up to standard. According to Dr Gerhard Offringa, one of the company’s major clients at the time of writing was Overberg Water in the Western Cape. The WRC also maintains the patent of the technology. ‘This is the first technology to be commercialised immediately after research has been completed’ says Lawrence Baloyi, Intellectual Property Manager at the WRC.
Dr Gerald Offringa also expressed his gratitude to the Department of Trade and Industry for showing trust in Ikusasa Water and the South African Ultrafiltration technology by funding further commercialisation of the technology.
Ikusasa Water obtained the licence from the WRC to produce Capillary Ultra-filtration membranes and membrane systems developed over a period of ten years by the University of Stellenbosch. These membranes are being produced in a factory in Somerset West and are eminently suitable for the treatment of both potable and industrial waters. Membrane systems have further been developed and engineered to provide sustainable service under taxing local and rural conditions. Operator attention and intervention are kept to a minimum, if required, by a robust automation and telemetric control system.
Ikusasa Water has pilot plants available to complete pilot studies should uncertainties regarding the water quality and its variation exist. Full pilot studies can be performed, also incorporating both ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems, to enable any water purity level to be produced under operational conditions, and to ensure excellent performance of the full-scale plant.
CUF provides water for treatment solutions for rural areas especially those municipalities seeking drinking water services. An emergency mobile water treatment plant incorporating CUF was also shown to the guests.
‘The CUF will assist in minimising human health risks (dehydration, skin cancers, waterborne disease) which are prevalent in the Western Cape Province’ says Rashid Khan, Chief Director at DWA Western Cape.
Contact : Dr Gerhard Offringa
Marketing Manager : Ikusasa Water