The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched a programme focused on sustainable housing.
“We want to build a large scale demonstrator of sustainable housing, using clean technologies,” reports CSIR president and CEO Dr Sibusiso Sibisi.
The programme will involve most of the divisions of the science council.
“This project brings together a whole range of disciplines,” he enthuses. Thus, the CSIR is going to strengthen its work in the field of energy, including concentrated solar energy, and this is also going to be linked to the sustainable housing demonstration project. Likewise, the nanotechnology is going to be used to improve solar energy systems.
The CSIR’s function is to conduct directed multidisciplinary research, seeking technological innovation, for industrial and scientific development, to bring about the improvement of the quality of life of the people of South Africa.
The science council sits between universities on the one hand, and industry on the other. Or, to phrase it differently, its work lies between pure research and commercial research and development.
“We’ll hold hands with both, and jointly do work with both,” says Sibisi.
In its annual report for the financial year 2007/8, the CSIR revealed that it had increased its income from contract work by 19% to R766-million (the figure for FY2006/7 being R643,6-million), this figure incorporting contract work for both the public and private sector agencies and companies, and both for local and international clients.
The Parliamentary grant for the CSIR was increased by 5% to R445-million, and the council’s total operating revenue increased by 7,4%, or R84,7-million, to R1 236-million.
The CSIR has a number of high-level research themes, namely energy, health, defence, public safety, natural environment, built environment, manufacturing, mining, and three others that are both research themes in their own right and which underpin the other themes as well – space and information and communciation technology, materials, and enabling technologies.
Space, for example, includes satellite imagery which is usually invaluable and often essential for work in other areas, while enabling technologies refer to CSIR facilities such as wind tunnels, satellite antennas, high-powered lasers, and advanced characterisation and computing facilities, including the Cape Town-based IBM Blue Gene supercomputer.
This is the only Blue Gene located outside the US.