Jul 27, 2012
Green energy requires an investment in chemistryBack
Africa|CoAL|Components|Efficiency|India|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Resources|Solar|Sustainable|Water|Africa|Brazil|South Africa|South African Chemical Institute|Chemicals Industry|Energy|Energy Efficiency|Energy Generation|Energy Solutions|Energy Usage|Solar Energy|Solutions|Wind Energy|Vincent Nyamori|Werner Van Zyl|Green Chemistry
© Reuse this
The chemicals industry is often overlooked as key to the generation of new and alternative energy solutions, says industry body South African Chemical Institute (SACI) Green Chemistry division chairperson Dr Vincent Nyamori.
“In South Africa, our current energy usage is finite and mainly relies on coal as a raw material, which has a high carbon footprint. “Finding solutions will ultimately rest on the shoulders of scientists and, in particular, chemists have a significant role to play.
“However, despite the importance of the chemicals industry for the betterment of society, it is sometimes viewed in a poor light because of the detrimental effects of some of its initiatives,” he says.
A green chemist must work, especially in energy generation, to revert the negative public perception and this can be achieved by developing innovative devices or designing methods to improve energy efficiency, he says.
Green chemistry can help to devise methods to garner solar energy for use in water purification and splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, where the latter is used as a fuel. These steps involve the use of catalysts such as algae, which is derived from nature, and is renewable as well as sustainable, he explains.
“To innovate and to explore these new methods will require more investment in South Africa’s green-chemistry industry,” says SACI Green Chemistry division secretary Werner van Zyl.
There are solutions that need more funding and support. Wind energy will probably become a long-term solution, but the biggest game changer will ultimately come from the sun and water, he argues.
“Photocatalysts need to be developed that can use light energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen components. “If this can be done with reasonable efficiency, there is enough energy density locked up in the covalent bonds of water molecules in a standard swimming pool to serve all South Africa’s energy needs for a year,” he says.
Currently, the costs of renewable resources are high, but they can be made economically and technologically viable through green chemistry, says Van Zyl.
The symbiotic relationship between green chemistry and renewable energy is undeniable and South Africa is exploring some exciting opportunities, avers Nyamori.
South Africa is part of a trilateral nanotechnology initiative, together with India and Brazil, to incorporate nanomaterials in photo- voltaic cell materials to improve solar energy efficiency.
“This research will enhance our capabilities to harness solar energy, which is a clean and sustainable source that can meet current and future energy demands.
“Solar energy can be an effective way of providing the necessary clean energy for sustainable development, especially in the context of poverty alleviation, clean water, remediated or uncontaminated environments, green cities, as well as other positive growth and developmental markers,” Nyamori concludes.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
Other Renewable Energy News
Updated 1 hour 13 minutes ago While there are battery-powered bolting solutions for wind turbine maintenance, the general consensus among wind energy industry stakeholders is that these solutions lack battery longevity and often succumb to overheating and bending, says bolting systems...
Updated 1 hour 13 minutes ago While wind turbines are standard products that are designed, verified by prototype testing and independently certified, their foundations are designed on a project-by-project basis to suit site-specific ground conditions. This, according to engineering consulting...
Updated 1 hour 13 minutes ago Engineering consulting firm Hatch Goba has introduced a new approach to integrated earthing for wind energy facilities, using insulated cables to connect the individual wind turbine groundmats to the substation groundmat, taking the equivalent circuit of the entire...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago The lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions on the part of contractors remains a significant hurdle to tackling South Africa’s service delivery challenges, delegates heard at the Consulting Engineers South Africa Infrastructure Indaba, on...
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago City of Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele earlier this month officially named the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Harambee.
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago About 58% of unstructured data stored by companies is dark data, which means that the value or regulatory importance of the data has not been determined. Subsequently, most of the stored data add costs, rather than increasing revenue or reduce regulatory risks, says...
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago Effective logistics, import/export and manufacturing consulting services require detailed industry knowledge and experience, but can add significant value to these industries by providing expert advice on various technical elements in their value chains, says...