Innovation through nanotechnology

DST/MINTEK

Nanotechnology Innovation Centre

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Nanotechnology treatment systems  

Nanostructured polymeric adsorbent   for capturing organics and heavy metals.  Adsorption modules with low pressure drops for fast removal of organics and heavy metals.

Membrane supported nanocatalysts as treatment options for polluted water and wastewater.  Total mineralisation and degradation of organic compounds using membrande supported nanocatalysts which have high degradation rates towards

Membrane supported nanocatalysts as treatment options for polluted water and wastewater.  Total mineralisation and degradation of organic compounds using membrande supported nanocatalysts which have high degradation rates towards selected compounds are developed and fabricated in-house.

Hydrophilic nanostructured polymeric membranes  for portable water production.  Imparting hydrophilicity to old and newly formulated polymeric membranes as a way of minimising fouling and increasing membrane lifespan is generally accepted as the best method.

Effective removal of pathogens from portable water:

Our goals are to provide cheap, nanotechnology based systems that will require minimal technology training and energy input making them suitable for rural and poor communites.  This will alleviate and hopefully reduce the frequency of epidemic outbreaks caused by waterborne pathogenic organisms like cholera.

Application Areas

Degradation and mineralization of organic pollutants from water and wastewater:

Treatment of wastewater and polluted discharges at source will assist water utilities in managing their treatment processes better and minimizing treatment system failure.  Potentially endocrine disrupting compounds are hard to remove by conventional treatment methods leading to persistent levels in treated water and wastewater which are best dealt with at source.  Our nanocatalyst based systems aims to totally degrade and mineralize common organic pollutants at source or at point of use.

Removal of heavy metals from water:

Toxic heavy metal based pollution has reached epidemic proportions in our country due to mining activities and industries that illegally discharge wastewater into water systems due to the perceived cost of treatment to meet regulatory discharge levels.  Our technology is geared towards the removal of selected heavy metals from water at low environmental impact.

Infrastructure

Total Organic Carbon (TOC) measurement equipment:

(i)  Equipped with an auto sampler for up to 96 samples.

(ii)  Has liquid and solid state analysis capability.

Electrospinning instrument capable of spinning

(i)  Nanofibres mats of up to 400 cm²

(ii)  Aligned fibres collected on drum

(iii) Core-shell fibre composites.

•  Gas Chromatogram

•  Drawdown automatic casting machine

•  Cross-flow membrane assessment rig

•  Dead-end membrane pressure vessels

Vision  

To provide nanotechnology solutions for effective treatment of water to improve the quality  of life of the people of South Africa.

Objectives  

To address the objectives of the national Nanotechnology Strategy of South Africa in respect of improving the quality of life by pursuing research and development in water treatment utilising nanotechnology and membrane technology.  Through creating nanostructured polymeric materials as:

(i)  Catalysts for organic molecule degradation and mineralisation,

(ii)  High surface area adsorbents of organics and heavy metals and

(Iii)  Membrane structures for high flux, low energy and slow fouling filtration systems.

Ultimately ensuring that there is a universal access to cheap, pure drinking water for all.

Mission  

To achieve the stated objectives of the National Nanotechnology Strategy for the Social Cluster in relation to water sector by innovative use of nanotechnology enabled technology solutions.

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Our team of researchers design new formulae for membrane fabrication and improving commericial membrane properties using this approach.