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About

Who we are:
We are a group of academics, researchers and postgraduate students based in the leading department of Chemical Engineering in Africa. We work on environmental issues of the resource-based process industries, and explore the use of process and systems engineering skills to solve environmental problems in development contexts.

We engage with the diverse worlds of the New Product Developer, the Process Design Team, the Environmental Engineering Consultancy, the Corporate Sustainability Analyst, the Urban Sustainability Analyst and the Environmental Regulator, wherever they are concerned with the processing of Biomass, Water, Recyclables or Minerals. Their challenges are to create opportunities, back them with efficient technology, and influence their organisations or clients to make decisions that help our society to develop sustainably.

We believe that our country and our continent need development, but also that the model of 20th century industrial economy can be neither goal nor path for such development. Much radical innovation, and large improvements in efficiency, are needed.

Our work is strongly incorporated into two signature research themes of the University of Cape Town: ‘Minerals to Metals’ and ‘African Urbanism’. Equally, we have a strong collaboration with the national Biofuels research chair at the University of Stellenbosch.

What we do:
We assess resource processing technologies, and improve them by the application of process systems engineering techniques.
We develop tools to help us with the environmental, social and economic assessment of technologies.
We develop the ideas and concepts for tools needed to make resource processing technologies maximally efficient.
We train graduates and postgraduates, and endeavour to make known research findings, so as to enhance expertise in the fields of sustainable consumption and production within South Africa.

Industrial activities we focus on:

  • The concentration of mineral-bearing ores and the extraction of metals from the concentrates;
  • The recovery of energy from biomass, esp. from waste;
  • The processing of waste materials for return into the industrial economy as raw materials.

What we are good at:

  • Systematic environmental assessments of products, processes and technologies using tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Materials Flow Analysis (MFA) in conjunction with modelling and simulation techniques;
  • Process selection and flowsheet design using Design Heuristics, Decision Support Frameworks (DSF) and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)
  • Integrated solid waste management planning, with a special emphasis on energy recovery
  • Characterising and classifying Mineral Wastes, incorporating:
  • Physio-chemical characterisation of mineral wastes
  • Quantitative assessment of the leaching and reaction behaviour of mineral wastes through laboratory-scale batch and column leach testwork.
  • Modelling and assessment of long-term leachate generation and contaminant transport potential of mineral wastes
  • Process development for the minimisation, treatment and/or disposal of mineral wastes