First indigenous UF plant to open in South Africa in May

The first large drinking water purification demonstration plant in South Africa based on locally manufactured membranes, an 800,000 L/d plant, is currently under construction for Overberg Water in the Western Cape and due to start up in May 2010.

The Ikusasa membrane plant

The Ikusasa membrane plant

The efficacy of the membranes for desalination pretreatment has also been demonstrated.

To date in South Africa, all UF membranes have been imported. However, Ikusasa Water has now established a local manufacturing capability to produce these membranes under licence from the Water Research Commission (WRC).

On 29 October 2009, the first manufacturing facility in South Africa to produce advanced ultrafiltration membranes for water purification was inaugurated in Somerset West.

The WRC funded development of local UF membranes and treatment systems at the University of Stellenbosch over the last 15 years. This technology is covered by four patents by the WRC.

The development - and the four patents registered - centered specifically on making these membranes and systems suitable for local, challenging circumstances and environments. Funding from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) further assisted this Black Economic Empowerment company to establish their local manufacturing capability.

Innovative research by the University, research funding by the WRC, seed funding by the DTI and the entrepreneurial spirit of Theunissen and his team makes this a model example of how a new technology can be taken from a research concept into actual production and use.

The manufacturing facility was jointly inaugurated by Mr Jay Bhagwan, director, WRC, and Prof Eugene Cloete, dean of science, University of Stellenbosch.

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