Another technologically innovative milestone for the NWU
INSTITUTIONAL OFFICE - The North-West University (NWU) and Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Pty (Ltd) of South Africa (PBMR) signed a cooperation agreement on 26 February 2008, according to which PBMR will sponsor research work conducted by the NWU in the field of nuclear engineering.
Dr Theuns Eloff, Vice-Chancellor of the NWU, emphasized the fact that the NWU strives to demonstrate its innovative spirit in all its endeavours, adding that the NWU is a new generation university whose mission is to become an effective and transformed balanced tuition and research university.
“The signing of the contract with PBMR is a perfect example of how relevant research excellence, technology transfer and partnerships with industry are coming together,” says Dr Eloff. “Together with PBMR the NWU has through research excellence put technology into practice to ensure that we have practical solutions for the energy crisis that is facing South Africa at present. The NWU is indeed locally engaged, nationally relevant and internationally recognized.”
One of the projects arising from the agreement between the NWU and PMBR involves research in the field of femtochemistry and laser spectroscopy.
According to Prof Christien Strydom, Director: School of Physio-Chemical Sciences at the Faculty of Natural Sciences on the Potchefstroom Campus, this project entails new methods using lasers to prepare existing or new compounds with greater selectivity. Using this new technology will result in far lesser amounts of waste or by-products and will subsequently be more environmentally friendly.
Prof Strydom says areas such as pharmacology (drugs), agriculture, nutritional supplements, energy, fuel and others will benefit from this relatively new technology.
Another NWU faculty that is working closely with PBMR through this joint venture is the Faculty of Engineering on the Potchefstroom Campus.
This faculty has been involved with the PBMR project since 1997. Faculty personnel were tasked to develop a thermal hydraulic design code for the PBMR. This code, Flownex, is being used by PBMR since 2000 to perform various design functions. The extension and further refinement of the code is a continuous task that is still being performed.
In 2006 two big testing facilities, the so-called Heat Transfer Test Facility (HTTF), comprising of the High Pressure Test Unit (HPTU) and the High Temperature Test Unit, were established at the NWU. Research carried out for PBMR at these facilities is of national importance in the quest for sustainable energy sources.
According to Prof Gideon Greyvenstein, Director: Postgraduate School for Nuclear Sciences and Engineering on the Potchefstroom Campus, the forthcoming agreement between PBMR and the NWU makes provision for the extension of existing projects and the development of new ones. These projects include the development of processes that are linked to PBMR technology, such as the use of nuclear power to desalt sea water and the testing of plant components of the PBMR, such as heat exchangers, valves and materials.
This technologically innovative milestone follows barely two years after the NWU received a prestigious accolade as the most progressive, technologically innovative university in South Africa in the National Innovation Competition hosted by the Department of Science and Technology.
Mr Jaco Kriek, CEO of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Pty (Ltd) of South Africa (PBMR) (left) en dr Theuns Eloff, Vice-Chancellor of the North-West University (NWU) (right) signed the agreement on behalf of the NWU and PBMR.
Prof Frikkie van Niekerk
Executive Director: Research and Innovation
Tel (018) 299 4926
Prof Christien Strydom
Director: School of Physico-Chemical Sciences at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Potchefstroom Campus
Tel (018) 299 2340 / 082 771 3101
Prof Gideon Greyvenstein
Director: Postgraduate School for Nuclear Sciences and Engineering, Potchefstroom Campus
Tel (018) 299 4060 / 082 558 3917
Ms Phumzile Mmope
Executive Director: Corporate Affairs and Relations, NWU Institutional Office
(018) 299 4931 / 073 2189691