College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

2018 Research Expo


Engineers provide the necessary infrastructure for countries, like South Africa, to generate wealth and provide job creation.  Collaboration with industry is not only vital to the economy, but also to the training of young engineers in production environments. Our researchers are engaged in cutting edge projects.

These projects address societal problems, including: the development of effective and affordable desalination technologies, innovative solutions for renewable energy using wastewater, algae, waves and sunshine, and innovations to reduce the carbon footprint of urban infrastructures.

2018 Research and Exhibition


Thermodynamics Research Unit

Novel chemical separation methods via gas hydrate technology: Gas hydrate technology is being used to effect the separation, concentration and purification of mixtures (gas-gas, desalination, juice concentration and carbon capture.
(Dr Prathieka Naidoo)

Supercritical fluid extraction studies. Test refrigeration rig for the evaluation of refrigerant blends.
(Phakamile Ndlovu)

Developing electronic waste beneficiation technologies for South Africa.
(Dr Mark Williams-Wynn)

Parallel Kinematic Architecture CNC Milling and Gripping System

A machine designed to have 5 degrees of freedom through a parallel kinematic architecture with a reconfigurable end effect that has both milling and gripping capabilities.

(Dashlen Naidoo)

How Healthy Ecological Infrastructure Can Be Utilized to Secure Water for the Benefit of Society

The Water Research Commission has funded this 5-year study to identify ecological infrastructure investment areas within the uMngeni catchment to improve water security.

The project approach selected four pilot study areas or catchments within the uMngeni, the Mthinzima, the Baynespruit, Mzinyathi, and the Palmiet that focused on water quality and quantity, the cost-benefits of investing in ecological infrastructure, and the benefits to society.

The research aims to increase understanding of the Greater uMngeni catchment through these pilot studies. Underway from this research is the development of a catchment management plan for the uMngeni catchment

(Susan Risko)


Miniature models of the Vibration Research & Testing Centre & High Voltage Direct Current labs; and display of postgraduate work shown on posters.The Centre deals with several researchers represented by each of these three displays.

The models are mainly based on Engineering Aspects Design (of power generation), transmission and distribution, which have decisive influences on project planning and life expectancy consideration.

(Daniel Kubelwa, Pravesh Moodley)

Thermochemical Conversion

Biomass and non-biopolymetric resources thermochemical conversion to valuable products: The current project entails development and modification of the conversional processes to efficiently convert resources and energy using thermochemical treatment (pyrolysis, plasma, torrefaction and combustion).

(Dr Malusi Mkhize, Arsene Senga)

Reactor Technology Research Group

Enhanced slurry phase Fischer Tropsch Synthesis: Liquid fuels and specialty chemicals from Coal

(Dr David Lokhat).

Agricultural Engineering

Effect of Transportation Conditions, Pre-Storage and Storage Treatments on the Quality of Fresh Tomatoes in Selected South African Supply Chain.

Assessment of Trends in Rainfall and Runoff at the La Mercy Catchments (South Africa) under Bare Fallow Conditions and Sugarcane Production

Performance of Cowpea under Moisture irrigation. It saves between 10 – 40% of water vs conventional irrigation.

(Prof Tilahun Seyoum)

SMRI/NRF SARChI Research Chair in Sugarcane Biorefining

The SMRI/NRF SARChI Research Chair in Sugarcane Biorefining will present current projects which aim to increase the product portfolio of the local sugarcane industry.

Using chemical and biochemical conversion technologies, sugarcane process streams are turned into value-added products, including chemicals and bio-based materials.

Bio-refinery Technologies

Development of technologies to enable extraction of maximum value from bio-resources.

This minimises waste that goes to landfill and waste becomes a valuable resource by extraction of high value materials, for e.g. sawdust, chicken feathers

(Prof Bruce Sithole)

Pollution Research Group

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported an estimated 2.4 billion people globally had no access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015. The global sanitation community has made great efforts in trying to resolve sanitation problem.

Two of the major challenges facing this quest are: Finding effective and sustainable ways of dealing with the contents of current non-sewered sanitation options; Developing safer healthier sanitation technologies.

(Rebecca Sindall, Konstantina Velkushanova, Samuel Getahun, Preyan Arumugam)

Environmental Engineering Advanced Pavement Design

This project investigates the pre-treatment of sea water and the consequent membrane desalination in the local context. For pre-treatment the performance of four different systems were evaluated and for membrane desalination an energy improvement analysis was performed.

The carbon footprint of different infrastructure projects linked with local roads and freeways as well as with the Port of Durban have been modelled. Interventions to reduce this footprint have been evaluated in terms of materials used as well as improving operational environmental performance.

(Elena Friedrich, Mohamed Mostafa)

Mechanical Engineering Group 14

Forced Convection Solar Dryer with a Pre-heater, designed and manufactured to dry faecal sludge.

(Travis Swanepoel)

Power Systems

Electric generators are one of the most important equipment in electrical power industry. The project involves protection of an electric generator against 100% stator earth fault which has been implemented using real-time simulation and tested using commercial relay.

Bus transfer schemes in thermal power plant of vital importance. This research shows various methods of bus transfer implemented on a thermal power plant.

This research presents the work on electrical, load flow, implementation of protection, automation, control and SCADA system

(Prof Akshay Saha)

SARCHI Chair in Waste and Climate Change

The SARCHI Chair in Waste and Climate Change at UKZN has launched the "Waste to Resource Series", to showcase innovative research, development and innovation conducted at UKZN on the effective management and valorization of waste as a resource.

(Prof Cristina Trois)


This research focus on a superconducting series core reactor that improves superconductor electrical properties.

(Dr Leigh Jarvis).

Umgeni Water Supports Water Resource Capacity Building via UKZN Research

Various projects that are supported by Umgeni Water through the Umgeni Water Chair of Water Resources Management will be highlighted.

These projects include: a recirculating water basin, the development of a predictive mass balance model of chlorine and flocculant consumption in water treatment, the identification of sources and sinks of sediments and nutrients in the Msunduzi catchment to guide investment in ecological infrastructure, and behavioural ecology research on Yellowfish.

(Susan Risko)

Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab (EFML)

Waves, Algae, Sunshine & Wastewater: A Recipe for Renewable Energy & Improved Water Quality on our Coasts?

Offshore photo-bioreactors for biomass production using wastewater as a growth medium are a way for coastal municipalities to reduce discharging of raw wastewater into the sea.

Harvesting the biomass and turning it into crude oil adds additional value. There is direct potential for commercial application.

(Prof Derek Stretch and Dr Justin Pringle)

Structural Engineering & Computational Mechanics Group (SECM)

Numerical methods for the investigation of composite materials and steel structures are presented. Industrial applications in mechanical, civil and aerospace engineering.

(Georgios Drosopoulos, Siphesihle Motsa, Iksha Singh)