Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Cape Town, South Africa

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Cape Town, South Africa

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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

The expansive Pretoria campus of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is increasingly being taken off the grid with the roll-out of renewable-energy projects as part of its drive to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy to the domestic energy industry. To drive research and development into renewable-energy solutions for South African applications, the CSIR established a new research unit – the CSIR Energy Centre (CEA) – in 2015 that focuses on energy research. A major component of the CEA is the CSIR’s Energy Autonomous Campus (EAC) initiative. EAC programme manager Sengiphile Simelane tells Engineering News that, considering the global transition in energy that is increasingly seeing a focus on renewable energy, the CSIR decided to launch a specific unit dedicated to conducting research into energy issues that impact on South Africa and the wider region. “Energy research at the CSIR is divided into various streams, which are relevant to various issues in South Africa. A key criterion of the department’s establishment was its role as a platform to demonstrate physical results, which is in the form of the EAC.” He adds that a major influence in work undertaken by the EAC is the focus on a “least-cost approach” to determine the methods of using renewable energy. Attention, therefore, is being paid to the results achieved through different types of technology and various forms of implementation of an array of renewable-energy solutions and concepts to help the CSIR understand the most cost-effective option for specific applications, the advantages and drawbacks of certain technologies and combinations thereof, and the risks associated with different methods of implementation. Simelane points out that the aim of the EAC project is to be a working demonstrator model to showcase key factors of renewable-energy power generation technology, including the costs involved in implementing different forms, the performance thereof, risks and rewards, likely payback timeframes and integration methods. The ultimate plan for the EAC is to transform the entire CSIR campus into a smart power grid and use natural resources for all its energy requirements. This plan hinges on three primary forms of power generation to form an integrated plant that is not only flexible and reliable but, eventually, also capable of producing about 30 GWh/y of energy. This integrated plant will comprise various solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, a wind turbine and a biomass plant. These primary forms will be supplemented by secondary forms of energy, such as storage from batteries, and hybrid generation such as hydrogen fuel cells. PV FILLIP Although a sizeable solar PV plant already exists at the EAC – currently contributing just under 1 MW to the CSIR campus network – the integrated energy plant is still largely under development. It is planned that another 1 MW of rooftop solar PV modules will be rolled out in the upcoming financial year. The currently operating solar PV plant comprises ground-mounted and rooftop plants. To ensure that the data gathered on an experimental basis involves the latest available technology and innovations, the solar PV plants contain an array of different components and different technologies, which will be monitored to determine which technology is more favourable in terms of output and investment cost. The ground-mounted solar PV plant features single-axis and dual-axis tracking units that use hardware and software to follow the sun’s path throughout the day. The single-axis tracking units follow the sun only in one direction, while the dual-axis tracking units can follow the sun in any direction and use a more precise “live feed” of the sun’s exact position, which is generated using a weather station. The single-axis tracking units rely on a preprogrammed path and are, therefore, less efficient than the dual-axis tracking units in dynamic conditions such as an overcast day or during seasonal changes. Compared with fixed-axis modules, the tracking units result in about 20% greater efficiency in harvesting the sun’s energy. As an additional point of reference, some of the solar PV modules will be cleaned twice yearly, while another set of modules will never be cleaned to determine the effect of cleaned versus uncleaned panels. The dual-axis tracking plant also contains monofacial modules (conventional solar PV panels) and bifacial modules, the latter of which contains PV solar cells on both sides of the panel to absorb direct and indirect (reflected) sun energy. The bifacial modules are also separated into natural-reflection (positioned on sand and grass) and manufactured-reflection (positioned on paving) to determine if a greater solar yield results from the different surfaces. Simelane adds that, in time, the paving on the bifacial unit will be painted silver to determine if a highly reflective surface has any impact on performance. ENERGY AUTONOMY It is imperative that any energy project undertaken as part of the EAC has a sound business case. In this regard, each individual project and/or experiment needs to be cleared by an executive committee (exco) of the CSIR. Simelane says that, in addition to being a demonstrator model, the EAC is based on assisting the entire CSIR campus to reduce its dependence on power coming from the national grid, thereby increasing its green footprint and gradually lowering the cost of buying power from Tshwane municipality. The levelised cost of energy (LCOE) from the current solar PV plant is already achieving the goal of being cheaper than municipal power. The single-axis tracking plant produces an LCOE of 83c/kWh, while the dual-axis tracking plant produces an LCOE of R1/kWh. The rooftop solar PV plant produces an LCOE of 87c/kWh. “As we move forward, these prices will drop purely because of the market, as the prices for solar PV modules continue to drop,” says Simelane. Although the solar PV plant is a main focus of demonstrating renewable energy, he says the EAC is also actively pursuing other forms of renewable energy and storage, including hybrid generation and storage. WIND WATCHERS The next big project being devised by the EAC is the incorporation of a large wind turbine. Simelane says this will either be a unit of 2 MW or 3 MW. The EAC is conducting wind tests at the Pretoria campus to determine wind speed and prevalence at various points and altitudes, with about five of the 24 months of monitoring remaining. If the wind turbine proves to be feasible at the campus, the EAC aims to make the asset a tourist attraction with the incorporation of an observation deck on its nacelle. “We are planning a very tall, large turbine, so it will be a landmark feature in Pretoria,” enthuses Simelane. Further, owing to the solar PV plant and wind turbine relying on naturally occurring resources, which may individually or collectively be unavailable at times, the EAC also plans to construct a baseload power generation plant in the form of a 2 MW or 3 MW biomass plant. Although he says the current plan is to fire this plant using biomass generated from solid waste from landfills processed by Tshwane municipality, the plant will be specified to operate using any biomass feedstock. “We are in consultation with the City of Tshwane, which has indicated a willingness to avail about 50% of its currently available solid waste to us for feedstock,” he notes. STORAGE CONCEPTS Simelane says there will be regular intervals when the integrated power plant produces surplus power. The campus has a peak demand of about 7 MW and an average demand of about 3 MW. This raises two options in terms of what to do with surpluses: storage or curtailment. He states that curtailment is not an option, as this is wasted power, and has led the EAC to seek out various methods of storage to ensure no wastage. The most obvious storage method, says Simelane, is batteries – which the EAC plans to roll out soon. “By the end of the year, there will be various battery systems in operation throughout the campus.” These will include the most popular types, such as lithium-ion batteries, as well as any other viable new technology. Selling surplus power into the regional Tshwane grid is also an option being looked at. Another hybrid form of storage that could be used in future at the EAC is the use of surplus for powering an existing fleet of ten electric vehicles (EVs), including BMW’s i3 and Nissan’s Leaf. EVs on campus are powered through numerous charging points. He says that, in addition to storage in battery-based devices – classified as power-to-power storage – the EAC is also pursuing power-to-gas storage, currently a global “megatrend”. This will entail the EAC installing an electrolyser, which will use surplus electricity to produce gases and fuels. The EAC plans to use an electrolyser to produce hydrogen, which is planned for use in a future fleet of hydrogen fuel cell cars. Simelane says the electrolyser concept can be taken a step further, as the hydrogen gas generated can be put through a reactor to produce other fuels, such as methanol. “We are looking at the best electrolyser that we can deploy. It will be a small one as a pilot project,” he says. OVERALL EFFICIENCY DRIVE A further initiative which forms a key aspect of reducing the carbon footprint of the CSIR Pretoria campus is an overall reduction in energy consumption using demand-side management and demand-shaping protocols. Demand-side management is envisaged to regulate equipment and processes that consume large volumes of power on campus, while demand shaping is critical to managing peak demand. “This will manage equipment that uses a lot of energy to fall in line with periods when electricity is cheaper or more readily available as well as smoothing out peak consumption periods,” Simelane says. An energy audit is being conducted throughout the CSIR Pretoria campus to assist the institution in understanding where savings can be made and how to adjust processes to reduce spikes in consumption during peak times.


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

The annual budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) remains stable, in real terms. “It’s in line with inflation,” DST director-general Dr Phil Mjwara told Engineering News Online at a press briefing on Tuesday. “It’s not declining, it’s not growing.” However, exchange rate volatility did have an impact as rand weakness drove up the costs of acquiring scientific and research equipment from abroad. In response to a question from another journalist, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said “[w]e do know we [the country] are going through a low growth phase at the moment. We are working hard at the DST to contribute to increased growth through new industries and products.” Funding was not at the level that the Department would like, and it was working on developing international partnerships to access foreign funding. “We do rather well in that regard,” she observed. “We are also pursuing a number of initiatives with the private sector.” The DST was also encouraging other government departments, and not just at national level, to invest in innovation. She cited the example of the Gauteng provincial government’s support of the Innovation Hub in Pretoria. “Really, what you do is not rely on what comes out of national revenue.” In her formal statement at the briefing, Pandor reported that her department’s budget for 2017/18 was R7.5-billion. “[T]he Department will maintain a clear focus on human capital development and the continuous modernisation of research infrastructure,” she assured. The DST was heavily involved in achieving four, in particular, outcomes desired by the country’s Medium Term Strategic Framework. These are Outcome 2 (a “long and healthy life for all South Africans”); Outcome 4 (“decent employment through inclusive growth”); Outcome 5 (a “skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path”); and Outcome 6 (an “efficient, competitive, and responsive economic infrastructure network”). To ensure the transformation of the country’s human capital, at least 80% of post-graduate bursaries awarded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) would go to black students, 55% to women and 4% to people with disabilities. This transformation, she stated, was a requirement for sustainable growth. The assignment of the DST’s 2017/18 budget is as follows: research development and support (which funds research, researchers and research infrastructure) gets R4.3-billion. Socioeconomic innovation partnerships (which are focused on fighting poverty and creating sustainable jobs, human settlements and service delivery) is assigned R1.6-billion. Technology innovation (under which rubric fall the Technology Innovation Agency, or TIA, and the National Intellectual Property Management Office) receives R1.1-billion. International Cooperation and Resources gets R128.7-million and administration is allocated R383.7-million. The Parliamentary grants allocated to agencies reporting to the DST are – the NRF: R926-million; the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: R916-million; the Human Sciences Research Council: R305-million; the TIA: R397-million; the Academy of Science of South Africa: R25-million; and the South African National Space Agency: R131-million. These entities can and do also receive separate funding for specific projects. “Our theme for this year’s budget vote is ‘The Oliver Tambo legacy – positioning the national system of innovation for the future’,” affirmed Pandor. “OR Tambo wasn’t just a luminary of our struggle for freedom; he was also an outstanding mathematics and science teacher.”


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.5-02 | Award Amount: 3.97M | Year: 2012

Food security is a major concern for all countries in the face of population increase and diminishing energy and water supplies. Over one billion people in low and middle income countries suffer from malnutrition. To meet the UN Millennium Development Goals to eradicate hunger and poverty, it is essential to reduce post harvest losses, including in the fisheries sector. The overall objectives of SECUREFISH are to strengthen capacity in low cost technology; to improve the preservation of existing fish supplies; to utilise waste and bycatch to produce value-added products; to develop an integrated quality management tool and finally to test the developed technology and quality management tool in different real third country conditions. There are six work packages (WP). WP1 will ensure the efficient management of the project. WP2 will develop low cost innovative processing tools based on traditional technology for preserving fish including a solar tunnel drier, a modified solar assisted extruder and fast freezing/ continuous atmosphere freeze-drier (CAFD). In WP3, underutilised bycatch and waste by-products of fish processing will be recovered and converted to high value products. WP4 will develop an effective total quality management tool (safety and risk assessment; HACCP quality cost and traceability, nutritional and eating quality and carbon footprint) of three fish product chains (solar dried, extruded and frozen/CAFD) which will be tailored to suit local needs. The technological advances (WP2) and quality management tool (WP4) will be evaluated in the three fish product chain case studies in Africa (Kenya, Namibia, Ghana), Asia (India and Malaysia) and Latin America (Argentina) to include different economic, cultural and social conditions. The case studies involve stakeholders including SMEs to ensure sustained implementation of project results. WP6 details a strategy for education, training and dissemination to widely promote the results and guidelines.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: INCO.2012-1.1 | Award Amount: 4.50M | Year: 2013

In 2007, heads of state and government from Africa and Europe launched the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) formulated in response to geopolitical changes, globalisation and the processes of integration in Africa and Europe. At the heart of the JAES is an overtly political relationship and among the features distinguishing JAES from previous Africa-Europe policy initiatives is the associated action plan addressing eight priority areas for Africa-Europe cooperation. The contribution of scientific and technological research, development and innovation, and the centrality of capacity research for economic and social growth and poverty alleviation, and for addressing global societal challenges of mutual interest is explicit. The value of cooperation between the continents is central and under JAES has already led to significant achievements for mutual benefit. CAAST-Net Plus objectives encourage more and better bi-regional STI cooperation for enhanced outcomes around topics of mutual interest, and particularly in relation to the global societal challenges of climate change, food security and health. CAAST-Net Plus actions rely on bi-regional dialogue among stakeholders for gathering informed opinion and experience about the bi-regional cooperation process, formulating and disseminating it in such a way as to be admissible to the formal bi-regional STI policy dialogue process and to programme owners. Through informing the bi-regional policy dialogue for mutual learning and awareness, through building support for coordinated and innovative approaches to bilateral funding of bi-regional cooperation around global challenges, brokering the public-private relationship to foster improved uptake and translation of bi-regional research partnership outputs into innovative technologies, good and services, and through dedicated mechanisms to encourage bi-regional research partnerships, CAAST-Net Plus will make invaluable contributions to the quality and scope of the Africa-Europe STI relationship for mutual benefit.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-2-3-02 | Award Amount: 3.88M | Year: 2010

AFTER aims to revisit traditional African products, knowledge and know-how in the light of new technologies for the benefit of consumers, producers and processors in Africa and Europe. By applying European science and technology to African traditional food products, AFTER seeks to turn research into quantifiable and innovative technologies and products that are commercially viable in both European and African markets. The 10 selected products representing 3 families of foods, (fermented cereal-based, fermented salted fish and meat, and vegetable and fruit based functional foods), fit into a matrix of technologies and processes shared between Europe and Africa that will be jointly developed within the framework of AFTER. The 10 products will be characterised according to existing knowledge on technologies and processes. The improved products, produced through reengineering and new processing technologies, will be tested for consumer acceptance, safety and nutritional quality. The market and entry requirement for new products will be assessed. Involving EU and African companies in production trials for the improved products will translate the results into ready-to-use information for food companies. AFTER has 8 workpackages: Management and Coordination; Characterisation of traditional products and know-how; Process reengineering of fermented cereal based products; Process reengineering of meat and fish products; Process reengineering for traditional functional foods; Consumer and market acceptance; Appropriation of the improved processes and technologies and Dissemination and exploitation. Creating new markets and trade opportunities for improved traditional foods and novel products in Europe and Africa will increase economic returns for all stakeholders involved in the production chain, down to the community level. Due consideration will be accorded to regulatory, ethical and IPR issues while also protecting the intellectual rights of Africans.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: ENV.2009.1.1.5.1 | Award Amount: 4.66M | Year: 2010

Africa is probably the most vulnerable continent to climate change and climate variability and shows diverse range of agro-ecological and geographical features. Thus the impacts of climate change can be very high and will greatly differ across the continent, and even within countries. There is a urgent need for the most appropriate and up-to-date tools to better understand and predict climate change, assess its impact on African ecosystems and population, and develop the correct adaptation strategies. In particular the current proposal will focus on the following specific objectives: 1- Develop improved climate predictions on seasonal to decadal climatic scales, especially relevant to SSA; 2- Assess climate impacts in key sectors of SSA livelihood and economy, especially water resources and agriculture; 3- Evaluate the vulnerability of ecosystems and civil population to inter-annual variations and longer trends (10 years) in climate; 4- Suggest and analyse new suited adaptation strategies, focused on local needs; 5- Develop a new concept of 10 years monitoring and forecasting warning system, useful for food security, risk management and civil protection in SSA; 6- Analyse the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture and water resources in SSA and the cost-effectiveness of potential adaptation measures. This objectives will be achieved by an integrated working approach that involves 9 European, 8 African and 1 International Organization.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.5-02 | Award Amount: 3.75M | Year: 2012

Cassava and yam are important food security crops for approximately 700 million people. Post-harvest losses are significant and come in the three forms: (a) physical; (b) economic through discounting or processing into low value products and (c) from bio-wastes. This project aims to reduce these losses to enhance the role that these crops play in food and income security. Post-harvest physical losses are exceptionally high (ca. 30% in cassava and 60% in yam) and occur throughout the food chain. Losses in economic value are also high (e.g. cassava prices discounted by up to 85% within a couple of days of harvest). Wastes come in various forms e.g. peeling losses can be 15-20%. Waste often has no economic value which can make processing a marginal business proposition. South-south learning is a feature of the project with partners in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Cassava and yam are contrasting in terms of their use and these differences will contribute to developing a comprehensive approach to reducing losses. Technologies and systems will be developed, validated, demonstrated and disseminated that focus benefits on small-holder households whilst offering increased income earning opportunities through SME development and links to large scale industry. These contribute to the comprehensiveness of the approach, and provide diverse learning opportunities and allow examination of losses in a wider food security context. There are 3 impact pathways: 1. reduction of physical losses focussing on fresh yams storage 2. value added processing reducing physical and economic losses in yam and cassava. 3. improved utilisation of wastes (peels, liquid waste, spent brewery waste) producing products for human consumption including snack foods, mushrooms and animal feed. Cross-cutting are issues of food safety, enterprise development and practical demonstration. It is aimed to validate technologies capable of reducing losses by an equivalent of at least 50%


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: SSH.2013.2.1-3 | Award Amount: 2.88M | Year: 2014

MNEmerge Project aims to address the issues raised in this call together with a consortium that consists of top European universities, international organisations and multinational enterprises. We wish to provide a comprehensive framework, case study methodology and policy analysis of the activities of MNE and organisations operating in- and outside of EU. We are mostly interested on activities that take part in India, Brazil and Africa. The consortium has been an active contributor to the multinationals research and it has expertise on studying societal problems in emerging markets. The research will be carried out by an international, interdisciplinary team, involving researchers from Finnish, British and Dutch institutes. The issues studied in this project are varied but there is a common thread uniting all of its sub-themes; namely they all relate to how MNE activities in terms of one of the following: FDI, business functioning, technology and innovation strategies, corporate philanthropy or socially responsible investment, can contribute to the attainment of poverty alleviation, food security, health security and environmental security, which are intimately interlinked. The objectives of the project are: 1. Development of a framework to analyse MNE impact towards socio-economic development 2. Development of a model that describes the relationship between MNE, FDI and the economy 3. Role of public policies in supporting responsible business practises and the Millennium Declaration Goals 4. Case Studies to support the methodological framework model on health, environment and energy We identify modes of MNE collaboration with other societal stakeholders including the State, which permit the business sustainability while ensuring sustainable development of society as a whole with the environment being a passive stakeholder. We will also develop tools and aids for decision making that can facilitate the implementation of the aforesaid recommendations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.4-01 | Award Amount: 3.89M | Year: 2012

The project will develop environmentally appropriate and socio-economically sustainable biotechnological processes for converting biodegradable fractions of identified African and Mediterranean agricultural and industrial waste as well as fractions of municipal and animal solid waste into food, feed, value-added products for nutraceuticals and healthcare, biogas and organic based fertilizer. Integrated processes will combine sugar conversion from mainly amylopectins and starchy materials into proteins (for food and feed) with biogas and fertilizer production done in co-digestion of municipal solid waste and manure. Left over sugars from protein production will be used to produce amino acids and lactic acid by bacterial conversion of biowaste to upgrade the fertilizer and for fruit waste storage and food conservation. The technologies to be developed will rely on simple and locally available equipment and naturally occurring microorganisms. Life cycle analysis and socio-economic studies will be undertaken to ensure local applicability in the target countries. The project will contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by improving the management of biowastes in developing countries and thus reducing their potential adverse impacts on human and animal health, the environment and the economy. With partners from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the project also provides an opportunity for EU researchers and third country partners to network and share experiences and best practices. The involvement of small-and medium sized enterprises will contribute to EUs industrial competitiveness by exposing them to new markets and new product opportunities from waste utilization. Research activities will be accompanied by proof of concept at SMEs and demonstrations by local communities and NGOs. Exchange of best proactices and knowledge-sharing among project partners will be emphasised


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SFS-06-2014 | Award Amount: 1.78M | Year: 2015

PROIntensAfrica intends to develop a proposal for a long term research and innovation partnership between Europe and Africa, focusing on the improvement of the food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of African farmers by exploring and exploiting the diversity of pathways to sustainable intensification of African agro-food systems. The exploration will include environmental, economic and social externalities along the whole value chains. PROIntensAfrica has the ambition to formulate a research and innovation agenda, identifying the domains in need for further research to realize the potential of African food systems. In addition, PROIntensAfrica will suggest governance mechanisms that are effective in supporting the partnership. Key is the perception that pooling resources is the best way to align existing and initiate new research. This perception follows the policy of the EC, where instruments of joint programming like ERA-NET, JPI and article 185 aim to accomplish synergy and increase the effectiveness of resources. Pooling resources goes beyond the scientific domain and reaches into the policy domain. Consequently, besides being rooted in sound and challenging research, a partnership proposal needs to meet national and international policies to fly. Therefore PROIntensAfrica pay specific attention to engage with the policy domain, as exemplified by the intended creation of a policy support group. The rationale of the project is that a variety of pathways leads to sustainable intensification of African food systems. Different pathways are advocated in literature. High-input farming systems, for example, contrast with organic farming systems, each with their own supporters and criticasters. It is the conviction of the PROIntensAfrica consortium that moving beyond that debate will open exciting new pathways, and that combining elements of different systems will yield innovative systems that are optimally adapted to specific contexts.

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