The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has developed a one-stop treatment reactor for treating textile waste water, using locally developed nano-powders.
This treatment system offers an almost instantaneous removal of colour from water, explains project leader Professor Veruscha Fester.
Initial results to re-use the treated water for dyeing are very promising.
The treatment system is also able to treat waste water for disposal into municipal treatment systems.
The technology gives textile factories the opportunity to re-use their water, saving millions of litres of potable water, notes Fester.
Fester says the project team has already scaled up its laboratory prototype from 6 l/hour to 72 l/hr and now have a fully automated mobile pilot plant that can treat 1 000 l/hr or more.
“The next step is to get it to an installation in industry.”
Fester says the interest shown in the technology at the CPUT Innovation Showcase in 2015 – using a syringe filter and producing a few ml/min – encouraged her to quickly proceed to the product development phase.
CPUT and Fester approached the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) for funding, benefitting first from the TIA Seed Fund, and then from the Technology Development Fund.
“I really want to see my research becoming useful for industrial applications and, in doing so, creating jobs at all levels,” says Fester.
In addition to the funding, she also received two weeks’ Leadership in Innovation training in London.
“I realised that my real interest is in innovation and not basic research. I have always dreamed of developing products and processes that can assist industries.
“My projects have always been very aligned with solving industrial problems or providing semi-empirical models that engineers can use.
“My next level of learning will be to spin out a new technology and get it to market and start a profitable business.”
Fester currently holds a TIA Seed Fund (2019) grant to develop a polymer control system for the optimum dewatering of wastewater treatment plants based on the sludge rheological properties.
“I envisage that it can save up to R100 000 per dewatering plant a year.”
Fester is also developing a biosorbent for water treatment using vegetable and fruit waste.
She also aims to develop scale-up models for green synthesis of metal oxide nano-powders for various applications.