31 December 2019 | Story Dr Cindé Greyling | Photo Anja Aucamp
Dr Mariana Erasmus, SAENSE Platform Manager, says water remediation is vital for both the ecosystem and industries.

KovsieInnovation at the UFS supports innovative research outputs in various ways – one of which is to protect the intellectual property and to register patents where viable. This is in line with KovsieInnovation’s broader aim to create third-stream income for the university. Patent registration is a complex process and the UFS is proud to have the needed expertise to properly facilitate such an endeavour.

The SAENSE Platform

South Africa is a water-scarce country, with many water hungry industries (such as agriculture and mining). “Industrial processes often contaminate water with heavy metals, harmful chemicals, radioactive waste, and even organic sludge,” Dr Mariana Erasmus, SAENSE Platform Manager, explains.

Hence, water remediation is vital for both the ecosystem and industries. One of the key functions of the SAENSE Platform is to offer water-remedial solutions for the (bio)remediation of nitrates, heavy metals, and salts, among others. The platform’s activities and services are supported by undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers, using Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) funding. TIA is a national public entity that serves as key institutional intervention to bridge the innovation chasm between research and development.

From waste to water

Through the joint effort of two mining companies and the UFS/TIA SAENSE Research Platform, a new treatment for mine drainage (MD) has been developed. This patented B-DAS (Barium – Dispersed Alkaline Substrate) technology effectively treats the major contaminants found in acid, alkaline, or neutral mining wastewater. The aim of the B-DAS system is to provide a passive water-treatment solution with minimum waste production; it can also be a potential pre-treatment for reverse osmosis (RO) to lower the requirements of the membranes and therefore potentially reduce the RO cost.

The success of the patent is that it turns unusable water into water that is fit for agricultural purposes at a reduced cost and increased efficiency.

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