Bloemfontein, South Africa

Central University of Technology

www.cut.ac.za
Bloemfontein, South Africa

Central University of Technology, Free State or Central University of Technology is a University of Technology in Bloemfontein in the Free State province of South Africa. It was established in 1981 as "Technikon Free State". As part of the South African government's restructuring of tertiary education for the new millennium it was promoted to university of technology status. Wikipedia.


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News Article | January 27, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Earlier in January, the UN announced that 14 million South Africans may go hungry thanks to reduced crop production—the result of a severe drought that’s drying the region out. The next time a drought hits, a team of researchers at the Central University of Technology in Free State, South Africa want local governments and peoples to be prepared. To that end, they’re working on software that mixes modern and ancient knowledge to predict the onset of droughts. “The research is born out of necessity,” Adeyinka Akanbi, one of the researchers leading the work along with Dr. Muthoni Masinde, told me over Skype. “Right here in sub saharan Africa, we’ve been dealing with drought for the last couple of years and it’s getting worse. We’re looking for much more innovative ways to forecast and predict complex environmental phenomena.” The first step in the researchers’ system is to collect the traditional wisdom of local indigenous peoples about environmental events and what they mean—the blooming of a particular tree, for example. These correlations make up what’s called an “ontology.” By feeding this information into what’s known as a complex event processing engine, the idea is to give weather sensor data some additional context. The Libelium sensors used by the team. Image: Adeyinka Akanbi “For example, with the blooming of the tree, when it is captured in the ontology, the inference engine will be able to predict that the rain is going to fall soon,” said Akanbi. The trick is to build software that combines this information with a continuous stream of sensor data on soil moisture levels, temperature, and more. “The program puts them together and refines and improves the accuracy of the prediction,” Akanbi added. For the current drought, Al Jazeera reports that no end is in sight, and the hot and dry conditions are expected to last for at least a few more months. So far, the team in South Africa has set up a wireless sensor network made up of Libelium sensor boards in Thaba ‘Nchu, a fertile region in Free State that is home to Tswana and Sotho peoples. The university has also already sent researchers out to 13 different villages in the region to make contact with three different tribes, in order to learn from them. The way Akanbi tells it, this has been the most challenging part of the project so far. “When you try to go to these remote places, if you’re not part of the tribe, they are not so welcoming,” Akanbi said. “We had to get someone to act as an intermediary for the researcher, and we were able to gather this knowledge through workshops, questionnaires, and one on one interviews.” The process took months, Akanbi said, and the researchers offered monetary incentives to the tribespeople in return, and cell phones so they could stay in contact. Akanbi also emphasized that the project is global in scope—the team hopes that when all is said and done, their software could be just as useful for governments (and individuals) in Canada, for example, as it is in South Africa. Canada is an ideal candidate for this approach to weather prediction because First Nations peoples in Canada have a long history of watching for signs in nature to predict the weather, from the migration of birds to the position of the moon. “There’s a lot of literature on scientists recognizing that indigenous people have a lot to tell scientists, especially in ecology,” said Glen Aikenhead, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s college of education specializing in cross-cultural science education. Compensating indigenous peoples in return for their knowledge, which Akanbi’s team attempted to do, would be one problem for any governments attempting to survey them, Aikenhead said. The bigger issue, however, would be ensuring that they also have a stake in how their knowledge is used to make policy decisions in a country that has a long, dark history of oppressing and exploiting its indigenous peoples. For example, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act gives authorities the discretion to consider indigenous knowledge in any environment assessment, but that input doesn’t necessarily translate into action. “It turns out that these elders would share this knowledge in good faith, and the scientists would listen, but then when a decision was made, the question is who has the power to make that decision?” Aikenhead said. “It was always the scientists back in Ottawa, or back in the corporate boardroom, that said okay, we've learned this from the elders, but this is what we’re going to do.” Even so, Akanbi said, the knowledge is there, and so is the technology to make use of it—but more importantly, South Africa needs to get ready for the next drought, once it makes it through the current one. “These sensor networks, thanks to the Internet of Things, are readily available,” Akanbi said. “You can easily get rainfall and soil moisture, and temperature, even on the internet nowadays.” “The only thing that’s missing is the indigenous knowledge.”


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology | Vermaak H.J.,Central University of Technology
Renewable Energy | Year: 2013

This study investigates the possibility of using and developing hydrokinetic power to supply reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity to rural, remote and isolated loads in rural South Africa where reasonable water resource is available. Simulations are performed using the Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewable (HOMER) and the results are compared to those from other supply options such as standalone Photovoltaic system (PV), wind, diesel generator (DG) and grid extension. Finally the paper points out some major challenges that are facing the development of this technology in South Africa. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology
Energy Conversion and Management | Year: 2015

The present paper develops a model to optimize the daily operation of a hybrid energy system consisting of a hydrokinetic, a pumped hydro storage system and diesel generator. The optimization approach is aimed at minimizing the cost function subject to the availability of water resource, the variable load requirements, and operational constraints of the hybrid system's components. The main purpose of the developed model is to minimize the daily amount of diesel fuel consumed to supply the load while maximizing the use of the hydrokinetic operating in conjunction with the pumped hydro storage. For simulation purposes, the hourly load demand, resource data for a selected rural area in South Africa have been collected and used as an input to the developed model. The economic analysis has resulted in the calculation of optimized daily operation cost of the proposed hybrid system in summer and winter conditions. The obtained results demonstrate that a substantial reduction in the daily operation cost can be achieved (88% in summer and 97% in winter) using the hybrid system compare to the case where the diesel generator is used alone. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s) are heme-thiolate proteins distributed across the biological kingdoms. P450s are catalytically versatile and play key roles in organisms primary and secondary metabolism. Identification of P450s across the biological kingdoms depends largely on the identification of two P450 signature motifs, EXXR and CXG, in the protein sequence. Once a putative protein has been identified as P450, it will be assigned to a family and subfamily based on the criteria that P450s within a family share more than 40% homology and members of subfamilies share more than 55% homology. However, to date, no evidence has been presented that can distinguish members of a P450 family. Here, for the first time we report the identification of EXXR-and CXG-motifs-based amino acid patterns that are characteristic of the P450 family. Analysis of P450 signature motifs in the under-explored fungal P450s from four different phyla, ascomycota, basidiomycota, zygomycota and chytridiomycota, indicated that the EXXR motif is highly variable and the CXG motif is somewhat variable. The amino acids threonine and leucine are preferred as second and third amino acids in the EXXR motif and proline and glycine are preferred as second and third amino acids in the CXG motif in fungal P450s. Analysis of 67 P450 families from biological kingdoms such as plants, animals, bacteria and fungi showed conservation of a set of amino acid patterns characteristic of a particular P450 family in EXXR and CXG motifs. This suggests that during the divergence of P450 families from a common ancestor these amino acids patterns evolve and are retained in each P450 family as a signature of that family. The role of amino acid patterns characteristic of a P450 family in the structural and/or functional aspects of members of the P450 family is a topic for future research. © 2014 Syed, Mashele.


Hydrokinetic power generation is a relatively recent type of hydropower that generates electricity from kinetic energy of flowing water making the conversion process more competitive compared to traditional micro-hydropower. Few authors have already analyzed the use of standalone hydrokinetic systems for rural electrification, however, there is no available literatures investigating the possibility of using this technology in combination with other renewable energy sources or diesel generator. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to investigate the potential use of hydrokinetic-based hybrid systems for low cost and sustainable electrical energy supply to isolated load in rural South Africa where adequate water resource is available. Different hybrid system configurations are modeled and simulated using the Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewable (HOMER) and the results are analyzed to select the best supply option based on the net present cost and the cost of energy produced. The simulation results from two different case studies show that hybrid systems with hydrokinetic modules incorporated in their architectures have lower net present costs as well as lower costs of energy compared to all other supply options where the hydrokinetic modules are not included. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2014

The aim of this paper is to provide a survey of different innovative technologies that can be applied to the micro-hydropower system to make it cost effective for rural energy supply. Electrical, mechanical, civil or electronic technologies that can increase the viability of micro-hydropower as a cost-effective energy source for remote and isolated communities in rural South Africa are presented. The motivation behind this study is that there are a significant number of potential sites in South Africa where micro-hydropower is a viable energy option to provide reliable and low cost energy and where conventional schemes are not appropriate. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology
IET Renewable Power Generation | Year: 2015

In this study, two control strategies involving 'continuous' and 'ON/OFF' operation of the diesel generator in the solar photovoltaic (PV)-wind-diesel-battery hybrid systems are modelled. The main purpose of these developed models is to minimise the hybrid system's operation cost while finding the optimal power flow considering the intermittent solar and wind resources, the battery state of charge and the fluctuating load demand. The non-linearity of the load demand, the non-linearity of the diesel generator fuel consumption curve as well as the battery operation limits have been considered in the development of the models. The simulations have been performed using 'fmincon' for the continuous operation and 'intlinprog' for the ON/OFF operation strategy implemented in Matlab. These models have been applied to two test examples; the simulation results are analysed and compared with the case where the diesel generator is used alone to supply the given load demand. The results show that using the developed PV-diesel-battery optimal operation control models, significant fuel saving can be achieved compared with the case where the diesel is used alone to supply the same load requirements. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2015.


Vermaak H.J.,Central University of Technology | Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology | Koko S.P.,Central University of Technology
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2014

Apparently, most hydrokinetic literatures mainly concentrate on large-scale technologies such as waves, tides and ocean current applications. This could be one of the reasons delaying the utilization of small-scale hydrokinetic river technology in rural areas. This paper therefore critically reviews the current status of micro-hydrokinetic river (MHR) technology for rural applications. Relevant research literatures based on developments, applications, design, operation as well as different MHR technologies involved in rural electrification projects have been reviewed. After conducting these reviews it has become clear that one of the key barriers hindering the employment of MHR technology in rural areas with access to flowing water is the lack of research demonstrating the technical, economic and environmental benefits of this technology compared to other rural electrification techniques. Studies that look towards the long-term perspective of techno-economic analysis inclusive of capital, maintenance and running costs computations need to be carried out promoting the interest in utilizing this technology. This paper will aid researchers to identify areas that need to improve as well as encourage public bodies to implement proper energy policies regarding the MHR technology usage in rural areas. It will also create awareness among site owners, investors, project developers and decision makers regarding the potential benefits of using this technology in rural areas especially in countries with little or no elevation. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology | Vermaak H.J.,Central University of Technology
Renewable Energy | Year: 2013

This paper investigates the possibility of using hybrid Photovoltaic-Wind renewable systems as primary sources of energy to supply mobile telephone Base Transceiver Stations in the rural regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For this purpose, three different areas not served by the grid namely: Kabinda, Mbuji-Mayi and Kamina where solar and wind resources are available, were selected as pilot sites to implement this study. Four different possible options including a hybrid Photovoltaic-Wind, a diesel generator, a pure Photovoltaic and a pure Wind energy system were designed to compare and evaluate their technical performance, economics and environmental impact. Simulations using HOMER are performed to determine the Initial Capital, the Total Net Present Cost, the Cost of Energy as well as the system Capacity Shortage of the different supply options. The selection criteria include the financial viability, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for a project life time of 20 years. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Kusakana K.,Central University of Technology
Energy Conversion and Management | Year: 2015

Hydrokinetic power generation is currently gaining interest as a cost effective way of supplying isolated areas where reasonable water resource is available. However the seasonal characteristic of the water resource as well as the intermittent fluctuating load demand prevents this power generation system from being entirely reliable without appropriate energy storage system. Few researchers have recently analyzed the use of hydrokinetic systems as standalone or combined with other energy source, however the authors of these researches did not explore other means of storing energy except for traditional battery storage systems. In this study, the most conventional and established storage technology, pumped hydro storage, is proposed to be used in conjunction with a standalone hydrokinetic system in off-grid power supply. The techno-economic feasibility of such combination is analyzed and compared to the option where batteries are considered as storage system. The operation principle of the system is presented; the mathematical model and simulation model are also developed. Simulations are performed using two different types of loads in rural South Africa as case studies to demonstrate the technical cost advantages as well as the cost effectiveness of the proposed supply option. The results reveal that the novel micro-pumped hydro storage based hydrokinetic system is a cost-effective, reliable and environmentally friendly solution to achieve 100% energy autonomy in remote and isolated communities. ©2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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