The Water Research Commission honours the inventors of new water technologies
With great respect for the three innovative water technology inventors, the WRC honoured Prof Ed Jacobs of the University of Stellenbosch in absentia, Professor Lingam Pillay of Durban University of Technology and Dr Wade Edwards of ATL Hydro in an event held at The Elegant Lodge in Pretoria on 1 March 2010. The WRC is proud to have funded the technological inventions that have been commercialised to the benefit the South African Water Sector.
The South African Capillary Ultrafiltration (SACUF) water treatment system arose out of a unique collaboration between a historically White university and a historically Black technikon. Professor Ed Jacobs of the University of Stellenbosch, the driver of the project, developed the core technology – capillary ultrafiltration membranes which are capable of purifying water to very high standards. He then initiated collaboration with Professor Lingam Pillay, of the ML Sultan Technikon (now Durban University of Technology), to develop the technology into water treatment systems. Professor Jacobs and Professor Pillay were responsible for the engineering development of the technology.
With funding from the Water Research Commission the researchers could develop the ultrafiltration membranes and modules over a period of 7 years and extensively test them in various parts of South Africa. ‘’After several pilot studies, field trials and optimization, done by students from ML Sultan Technikon, this wonderful technology was developed’’ says Prof Lingam Pillay. “The outcome happened to be a very simple, robust, inexpensive and sustainable water technology that addresses the challenges of water provision to peri-urban towns, schools, clinics and farms. It was seen as an excellent model for inter-institutional collaboration to accelerate South Africa’s technological development’’ he adds.
The technology offers the following benefits to users:
· Guarantees 100% removal of E.Coli, cholera, Giardia, cryptosporodia and similar pathogens
· The system is fully automated and does not require skilled operators
· Consistently produces a very high quality of water that exceeds all drinking water quality standards, and equals or exceeds the quality of many bottled waters
· Product quality does not change as raw water quality changes
· A servicing and maintenance strategy that is very viable in under-serviced regions
· Systems are modular and can be produced in a range of sizes
The ultrafiltration membrane technology is currently licensed to a BBBEE company (Ikusasa Water Pty Ltd), based in Somerset West, as the commercial partner.
Due to low levels of water quality and supply security coupled with rising water costs and legislative compliance requirements, industries are increasingly pressurized to seek innovative ways to deal with industrial wastewater at source rather than the current practice which is end-of-pipe, i.e. at municipal wastewater treatment works .
As the national driver of innovation in the water sector, the Water Research Commission is currently involved in projects that promote on-site treatment of industrial wastewater for reuse, thus promoting the concept of zero liquid effluent discharge. Dr Wade Edwards came with such innovation, the Dual-stage Membrane Bioreactor Process Technology licensed exclusively to ATL-Hydro by the Water Research Commission of South Africa.
‘’Whilst innovative and considered as Best Available Technology (BAT), the membrane bioreactor process comprises a relatively simple flow configuration and is therefore ideally suited to industries characterized by: effluents which are difficult to treat; footprint constraints; requirements for high quality treated water’’ says Dr Wade Edwards .
contact : hlengiwe Cele
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