Disciplines Within Mining Projects by liv10498


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									                                  MSc Eng and PhD studies in
                              Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
                                    Thesis Research Areas

Biomedical Engineering
1.    Biomechanics, biomedical signal processing and biomechatronic devices for telemedicine
      Prof Cornie Scheffer

      The Biomedical Engineering Research Group (http://www.sun.ac.za/berg/) works across the various
      disciplines within engineering and healthcare to develop and research cutting edge new technologies and
      devices for primary and specialist healthcare. The topics to be supervised by Prof Scheffer are particularly in
      the field of biomechanics, biomedical signal processing and biomechatronic medical devices.

      Several bursaries available for top applicants.

2.    Microcirculation Flow Patterns in the Lymphatic System:
      Ms Liora Ginsberg

      The lymphatic system is an important biological system, with main functions of immunity and transportation of
      the excess tissue fluid from amongst the capillaries in the loose connective tissue into the vascular system.
      Much research has been conducted on the circulatory system, however very little has been attempted on the
      lymphatic system.
      Parametric studies and numerical modelling of the microcirculation of specific regions of the lymphatic system
      need to be conducted. The numerical modelling of the lymph may be achieved through computational fluid
      dynamic (CFD) techniques.
      The project will take place in the context of ongoing and previous final year projects and PhD studies.

      Funding for 1 MSc student has been applied.

3.    Atmospheric Flow Modelling with Particle Transport
      Prof Thomas Harms

      The simulation of flow which transports particles is an important subject which has wide applications. In the
      past successful investigations were concluded with regards to air streams containing coal particles (power
      stations), snow (research station Antarctica) and seeds (research stations Marion Island and Namib Desert,
      Namibia) . This project thus represents a further extension of this work in order to refine the computational
      capacity to model erosion, transport and deposition of sand particles. The preference computational fluid
      dynamics (CFD) software package will be OpenFOAM. The use of the faculty and the centre of high
      performance computing (CHPC) parallel processing computers is envisaged.

      Funding is available. (MScEng)

4.     Roll damping of marine vehicles
      Prof Gerrie Thiart

      Roll damping of marine vehicles such as boats, ships and barges is always important in respect of crew and
      passenger comfort, but the issue is of crucial importance for undersea mining vessels - mining operations
      have to be stopped when excessive roll motions are experienced - and (maybe less so, though) for helicopter
      carrying ships - flight operations have to be stopped when excessive roll motions are experienced. The aim of
      this study is to establish a theoretical roll-damping prediction capability, and will include
            roll decay experiments on ship-shaped sections, and
            CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations, using commercial software, of the experiments.

      Funding of this project is available to support 1 MScEng student financially.

5.   Fan blade radial flow
     Prof Gerrie Thiart

     Usually radial flow effects are ignored in the analysis and design of industrial axial flow fans. At off-design
     conditions, especially at low flow rates, this leads to erroneous prediction of fan performance. The aim of
     this study is to quantify radial flow effects on the performance of an axial flow fan, and will include
          an aerodynamic analysis of radial flow through an axial flow cascade,
          a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis, using commercial software, to support the
     aerodynamic analysis, and
          experimental verification of improvements in fan performance prediction.

     Funding of this project is being negotiated with interested parties; if successful it will be possible to support 1
     MScEng student financially.

6.   Evaluation and improvement of small-size soccer robot systems
     Prof WH Steyn (E&E), Dr Y Kim
     RoboCup is an international research and education initiative. Its goal is to foster artificial intelligence and
     robotics research by providing a standard problem where a wide range of technologies can be examined and
     integrated (cited from www.robocup.org). Stellenbosch is busy building five soccer robot systems equipped
     with highly advanced sub-systems including omni-directional wheels, a kicking/dribbling mechanism, a
     wireless communication device, an on-board mini computer, etc. So far, major mechanical and electronic
     jobs for three soccer robot systems have been finished. The main tasks of this project are: (1) to finish
     building the three robot systems; (2) to evaluate the current robot design (equipped with various control
     systems); (3) to improve and modify the current design for the remaining two soccer robots; (4) to do
     research on additional electronic aspects of the soccer robot systems. Note that this project's main
     supervisor is a E&E lecturer.

     Funding will be available for 1 MScEng student

7.   Control system design for hexapod (Stewart) platform
     Dr Y Kim

     A hexapod or Stewart Platform is an ultra high precision positioning device. It uses six actuators, whose
     length’s can each be varied, to position the platform in various directions. In addition to the traditional motion
     in orthogonal axes, X, Y, and Z, this device is also able to move in the rotary complements of pitch, yaw, and
     roll. Hexapod mounts are one of the most precise methods of platform accuracy available. This high
     accuracy possible with hexapods is shown in the use of hexapod milling machines and various other
     precision apparatus. Stellenbosch is now busy with building a hexapod platform (scale model). This platform
     along with basic control schemes is to be used for controlling (low-precision) the production equivalent
     demonstrator (PED) in the Cape Town Observatory. In order for this platform to be more useful, this project
     considers more advanced control schemes for accurate or highly sensitive antennas or telescopes. It is
     questionable if MeerKAT or SKA chooses to use a Stewart platform. However, it would be a good investment
     to see how feasible Stewart platforms are for high-precision control of antennas or telescopes, as they can
     offer an alternative solution in the future. Thus, the objective of the project is extensions of our current
     activities (building a scale model and demonstrating basic control schemes for a low-precision test bed) in
     the direction of implementing advanced control schemes for high-precision antennas or telescopes.

     Partial funding will be available
Cooling Towers & Air-cooled Heat Exchangers
8.    Effect of winds and temperature inversions on the performance of air-cooled Heat Exchangers
      Prof DG Kröger

      Winds and temperature inversions can drastically reduce the performance of large air-cooled heat
      exchangers as found in the power, petro-chemical and process plants. Significant reductions in power output
      have been observed at ESKOM’s Matimba power plant during windy periods. To maintain output more coal
      has to be burnt leading to increased pollution. At SASOL’s Secunda plant, a reduction in air-cooled heat
      exchanger effectiveness due to winds results in a corresponding reduction in output. Similar trends are
      observed in many process plants. During the hot summer of 2006, the Sates of California and New York
      experienced power shortages during windy periods in part due to the reduction in efficiency of their combined
      cycle air-cooled power plants.
      A numerical analysis (CFD) of the air flow patterns about and through such plants are required to determine
      the influence of distorted air flow patterns on the performance of the fans. Furthermore, recirculation due to
      hot plume air has to be determined. By introducing practical and cost effective modifications to such heat
      exchangers (extended fan platforms, windscreens, modified fan design, etc.) significant improvements in
      performance and a corresponding reduction in pollution should be possible.
      Funding is available for MScEng or PhD students

9.    Performance evaluation of fan assisted natural draught hybrid-cooling towers
      Mr Hanno Reuter

      Hybrid-cooling towers partly consist of wet- and dry-cooling sections in the same structure and find increasing
      applications in first world countries where water resources are scarce or costs are high and visible plumes
      aren’t tolerated. These cooling towers are mainly used to reject heat from large power stations and process
      plants to the atmosphere. The optimal operation and design of hybrid-cooling towers must be investigated
      analytically and experimentally.

      Funding is available for 1 MScEng or PhD student.

10.   Evaluation and optimisation of cooling tower fill materials
      Mr Hanno Reuter

      Natural draft wet cooling towers are used extensively in industry to reject excess heat from large power plants
      to the atmosphere and furthermore play an important role in the overall performance of power plants.
      Enhancement of cooling tower performance can generally reduce negative environmental impact and/or life
      cycle costs of power plants.
      The general objective is therefore to enhance cooling tower performance by improving fill performance
      characteristics. Experimental test rigs, designed and built for this purpose, will be modified and used.

      Funding is available for 1 MscEng or PhD student.

11.   Performance evaluation and optimisation of hybrid or deluged dry-cooling systems
      Mr Hanno Reuter

      Hybrid or deluged dry cooling systems are currently considered to be the leading water re-cooling technology
      when ground space is limited, water costs are high, and visible plumes are not tolerated.
      The general objective is therefore to investigate the performance characteristics of different finned and bare
      tube bundles with and without deluging and to develop a model to evaluate the performance.

      Funding is available for 1 MScEng or PhD student.

12.   Investigation of performance enhancement of natural draught cooling towers under windy conditions.
      Mr Hanno Reuter

      Natural draft wet cooling towers are used extensively in industry to reject excess heat from large power plants
      to the atmosphere and furthermore play an important role in the overall performance of power plants. Wind
      however generally reduces the performance of these cooling towers and subsequently the power plant due to
      distorted flow patterns at the air inlet and outlet, which decrease the mean air flow rate through and flow
      distribution inside the cooling tower.
      The main objective is to investigate different methods of enhancing cooling tower performance under windy
      conditions by utilising the wind kinetic energy.

      Funding is available for 1 MScEng or PhD student.
Design & Manufacturing

13.   The design and manufacture of MEMS devices for the biomedical and the military industry
      Prof Albert Groenwold

      Applications range from the development of military grade gyroscopes and accelerometers for the control of
      missiles, to valveless peristaltic micro-pumps and novel point-of-care devices for the detection of viruses en
      gas particles, etc.

      Sustained funding is available for 1 PhD and 2 MScEng students.

14.   Automated Assembly Systems
      Prof Anton Basson

      The use of reconfigurable systems is an approach to allow automation where special purpose systems would
      be too expensive. This research forms part of a larger project under the government's Advanced
      Manufacturing Technology Strategy (AMTS). Our research is aimed at systems that can automate assembly
      processes that have been done manually, but are being moved out of South Africa due to excessive labour
      costs. The product range that we are aiming at is very wide, and production volumes range from a few
      hundred to thousands. The research challenge is to develop modular assembly subsystems that can be
      adapted as the production requirements and product details change. Modular controllers (using Holonic
      and/or agent based control), the use of robots for parts handling, and the handling of small parts (<15 mm)
      are some of the challenges. The research is being conducted in collaboration with a large South African

      Funding will be available for a number of MScEng and PhD students. BEng Mechanical and Mechatronic
      students will be considered.

15.   Hydrogen Fuel Cell Manufacturing and Integration
      Prof Anton Basson

      Costs (manufacturing, operating and maintenance) and efficiency are key interrelated determining factors in
      the application of fuel cell technology. Some of these costs are driven by the mechanical engineering aspects
      of fuel cells and the focus in this project is on the manufacturing and integration of the mechanical
      subsystems. Specifically, the objective is to develope models for cost and manufacturability assessment, for
      high temperature PEM fuel cells aimed at combined heat and power (CHP) applications. The research is
      done in collaboration with UWC, UCT, CPUT and ZSW (a German research institute).
      Funding will be available for a number of MScEng students. BEng Mechanical and Mechatronic students will
      be considered.

16.   Computer Aided Design Tools for Teams
      Prof Anton Basson

      Develop information exchange tools for a team (whose members are spread all over the country, or even the
      world) doing mechanical/mechatronic system design. The aim is help them to collaborate as effectively as
      possible and is the further development of web-based DiDeas, Distributed Design Assistant, software;
      Develop software to aid mechanical designers in estimating manufacturing cost early in the design process
      and to improve a design's manufacturability.

      BEng Mechanical, Mechatronic or Industrial Eng graduates will be considered.

17.   Characterising 3D Digitising Systems
      Prof K Schreve

      Coordinate Measurement Machines (CMM) are commonly used to do complex 3D measurements, from
      quality control to full digitising for reverse engineering. These machines are rigorously calibrated for accurate
      measurements below 1μm. A number of new systems have been developed to rival CMM’s in terms of speed,
      cost and versatility. These systems include vision based systems, laser scanners, structured light systems
      and articulated arms. These systems are often not yet well characterised. This means that their accuracy is
      not truly tested and often they are not calibrated to national standards. This is a serious limitation since
      manufacturers must rely on OEM’s accuracy claims and the systems may not be acceptable as a quality
      control tool when supplying a global manufacturing environment.
      The goal of this project is to systematically characterise the systems we have available in our laboratory. As a
      first step theoretical error models must be developed. Then a measurement procedure must be developed to
      characterise the system. The end result will indicated the range of errors that can be expected from such a
      system. It will also report on repeatability and resolution.

      No bursary funding available

18.   Metrology for MEMS and micro components
      Prof K Schreve

      The miniaturisation of mechanical systems finds many exciting applications covering fields as diverse and
      medicine, automotive, robotics, space, etc. A lot of research goes into the development of manufacturing
      methods for components that can be as small as a few millimetres in size with features of only a few microns
      in size. In order to produce such components, it must be possible to check them dimensionally without taking
      them to an expensive laboratory. We want to look at existing micrometrology methods and find their
      limitations and ideal applications. We want to characterise these systems so that so that traceable
      measurements can be made reliably. As our understanding of these methods grow, we will look to developing
      new methods, perhaps for solving specific problems encountered in industry. We also want to investigate the
      integration data from various methods so that a complete image can be generated of an object, overcoming
      the limitations of each method.

      Funding available for 1 MScEng student

High Performance Computing
19.   High Performance Computing on the GPU and CPU
      Prof Albert Groenwold

      In recent times, graphical processor units - originally developed for the highly lucrative gaming industry -
      have increasingly been used for high performance computing applications in many a discipline in science
      and engineering. Indeed, graphical processor units, known as GPUs, have seemingly become a
      computationally efficient alternative to the conventional central processor unit (CPU).

      Interested students will develop and implement advanced numerical routines for scientific and/or engineering
      applications on single and multiple GPUs and CPUs. The approach taken will be two-pronged: we will aim to
      develop mathematical formulations that are optimal for implementation on multiple GPUs and CPUs, and we
      will investigate the advantages and limitations of the main-stream hardware and software options available
      today; in particular the ATI and NVIDIA GPUs, and the CUDA and openCL kernels.

      Funding is available for MSc and PhD students, but will depend on the specific field of application chosen.

20.   Titanium Powder Metallurgy
      Dr Deborah Blaine

      Manufacture of titanium components is usually an expensive process, resulting in the application being
      limited to primarily high end technology in aerospace, chemical processing and biomedical industries. Powder
      metallurgy (PM) offers a means of reducing manufacturing costs, thus expanding the range of use of titanium,
      especially in low-cost driven applications such as the automotive industry. This project is focused on
      investigating and developing the PM process for manufacturing high value added components from titanium
      powder. It also researches the machinability of sintered titanium. It forms part of a larger government project
      managed by TIA (Technology Innovation Agency) focused at developing manufacturing capabilities for
      titanium, which includes local aerospace manufacturers as industrial partners. It forms part of a larger
      government project under the Advanced Materials Technology Strategy (AMTS) focused at developing
      manufacturing capabilities for titanium. A number of related projects will be run concurrently in the Rapid
      Product Development Laboratory in Industrial Engineering.

      Funding is available for 2 MScEng students.
21.   Nanophase metal alloy structures
      Dr Deborah Blaine

      Nanostructured platinum group metal (PGM) near-surface alloys (NSA) are novel materials with promising
      applications in catalysis, functional materials and membranes. Current research on nanoparticulate materials
      is primarily focused at consolidating nanoscale powders into fully dense functional materials while maintaining
      the favourable nanostructure during densification. However, engineering these materials for tailored pore-
      particle structures, utilizing the promising high surface area to volume ratio of nanoparticles, increase their
      applicability to areas where high surface area is desired, such as cataysis. The focus of this project is to
      investigate the fabrication of unsupported metal alloy nanophase structures from nanoscale powders and
      evaluate their performance. Further understanding of the particle-to-particle interaction and how these
      translate to the bulk material performance will allow for intelligent and targeted design of novel metal alloys
      and structures. This NRF Nanotehcnology Flagship Programme project forms part of a cooperation between
      US, UWC, UCT and iThemba Labs entitled “Nano-architecture in the beneficiation of platinum group metals”.
      World class facilities at all the institutions will be shared within the group.

      Funding is available for 1 MScEng student.

22. The Modelling of Granular Materials and Geotechnical Applications
    Dr Corné Coetzee

      Granular flow occurs in a broad spectrum of industrial applications that range from separation and mixing in
      the pharmaceutical industry, to grinding and crushing, blasting, stockpile construction, generic flows in and
      from hoppers, conveyer belts, agricultural implements and many more. The worldwide annual production of
      grains and aggregates of various kinds is approximately ten billion metric tons. The processing of granular
      material consumes roughly 10% of all the energy produced on this planet and on the scale of priorities of
      human activity it ranks second, immediately behind the supplying of water. As such, any advance in
      understanding the physics of granular material is bound to have a major economic impact.

      Granular materials such as sand and clay are complex materials that exhibit both solid and fluid properties.
      Two methods are used to model granular behaviour: The Discrete Element Method (DEM) and the Material-
      Point Method (MPM).

      Research focus areas: Our research is focused on the agricultural and mining industries, as well as software
      development. Specific projects available include the following:

      a) The application of the Discrete Element Method (DEM).
          This includes the calibration of material properties as well as the modelling of typical processes such as
          the flow of ore on conveyor belts, transfer points and hoppers. The aim of such a study would be to
          optimise the process in terms of mass flow rates, wear and spillage. Students holding a bursary from a
          mining company, and who would like to continue with a Masters study, can suggest any research topic of
          interest to them and the mining company.

      Funding will be negotiated with interested parties; if successful it will be possible to support 1 MScEng student

      b) The development of MPM software.
          We are a partner in a research project funded by the European Union together with universities and
          private companies all over Europe. The main aim of the project is the development of Material Point
          Method (MPM) software. MPM is a so-called meshless finite element method which can easily handle
          large deformation without severe mesh distortion. This project is for those interested in programming, solid
          mechanics, the finite element method and who would like to be part of an international research team.
          There is the opportunity for the student to visit Delft (the Netherlands) for a period of up to 12 months. The
          study would include software development as well as testing and validation. Applications focus on
          geotechnical engineering and students with a background in Civil/Geotechnical engineering are welcome
          to apply.

      Funding is being negotiated; if successful it will be possible to support 1 MScEng student financially.

23.      Nuclear Reactor Systems Engineering
      Mr Robert Dobson

      A sustainable graduate research program at MSc Eng, MEng and PhD level in a number of specific nuclear
      reactor ancillary and safety related systems has been developed. These specific systems have been
      identified as being of importance in so-called Generation IV Nuclear Technology and which includes high
      temperature gas (helium) cooled graphite moderated nuclear reactors for power and process heat generation;
      leading ultimately to a sustainable hydrogen fueled pollution-free energy supply economy. [The well known
      PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor) is but one such a reactor concept. In a PBMR the fuel (so-called
      TRISO-fuel) is contained in high temperature-resistant pebbles and each reactor plant is made up of a
      number of relatively small ( 200 to 400 MW-thermal) modular units that are amenable to mass production.]
      The following five thesis areas (in which more than about 32 specific thesis topics have so far been identified)
      are available:
       i)     Nuclear reactor safety systems engineering using entirely passive systems, with no moving parts such
              as pumps and active controls. These systems are driven entirely by passive natural processes such as,
              by way of an example, the buoyancy induced natural circulation and the surface tension induced
              capillary action in closed and loop two-phase heat pipes. Other processes could also include surface
              tension driven flow, thermal expansion, absorption and adsorption heating and cooling and catalytically
              induced chemical reactions. For convenience, also included in this research focus area is helium
              plume transport behaviour, radionuclide diffusion within the plume and the dispersion of the plume into
              the environment as a result of weather induced forces.
       ii)    Waste heat recovery and utilisation using waste heat, that would normally be thrown away, to generate
              electricity. Depending on the waste stream temperature, use is made of Stirling or organic Rankine
              cycles for high and medium temperatures, respectively, and ammonia-water absorption systems for the
              relatively low temperature waste streams.
       iii)   Electric power and process heat co-generation nuclear plant and heat exchangers for coal to liquid fuel
              and chemical processing and chemical manufacturing industries.
       iv)    Fuel and other temperature measurement deployment and calibration systems, using, inter alia, fibre
              optical Bragg-grating techniques and gamma and neutron spectroscopy.
       v)     Particle and deflection dynamics (in a hot helium stream), using magnetic, electric and centrifugal force
              fields or vortex-tube technology.

      Sustained funding is available for any number of bursaries for MSc Eng, MEng and PhD students.

24.      Nuclear Power Plant Cooling
      Prof DG Kröger

      Almost 200 new nuclear power plants are being planned or under construction throughout the world. Some of
      these plants are required in areas where there is insufficient water for cooling. Dry cooling or hybrid (dry/wet)
      cooling systems are being considered for these plants.

      You are required to evaluate the performance characteristics of suitable hybrid mechanical or natural draught
      cooling towers for nuclear power plants located in relatively arid areas and operating under different ambient

      Funding is available for MScEng or PhD students

25.      Development and application of numerical design optimization techniques
      Prof Gerhard Venter

      A wide range of applications for numerical design optimization techniques are investigated and developed.
      The development typically involves limited algorithm development, but mostly concentrate on the supporting
      technologies like: parallel computing, meta-modeling, design of experiments, constraint handling, etc. On the
      application side, a wide range of problems are considered, typically linked to real industrial problems. These
      include structural optimization, fluid-structure interaction, blade profile optimization, experimental data
      matching ,etc.

      Limited funding in the form of bursaries are available.
26.      Topics in numerical modeling and optimization
      Prof Albert Groenwold

      Specific topics range from the applied modelling of practical engineering structures and systems, to the
      development of new modeling methods and new algorithms for optimization.
      Emphasis is placed on artificial intelligence, sequential approximate optimization and `finitelementology' (the
      development of new finite element formulations).

      Sustained funding is available for 1 PhD and 2 MScEng students.

27.      The effects of distorted inflow conditions on an axial flow fan
      Mr Johan Van der Spuy

      It is known that the orientation of the plane of rotation of an axial flow fan with regards to the direction of flow
      of the inlet air has a significant effect on its performance. This becomes evident when considering large
      arrays of horizontally orientated air cooled condenser fans. The University of Stellenbosch currently has a test
      facility available to measure the performance of fans under non-ideal inlet conditions. The purpose of this
      research would be to simulate, design and test various fan configurations for operation under distorted inlet

      1 MSc student (possibly two) can be accommodated.

28.      Investigating the occurrence of flutter in an axial flow compressor
      Mr Johan Van der Spuy

      Flutter refers to the interaction between the aerodynamic loads and the structural properties of an object that
      leads to excessive cyclic loading and a high probability of failure of the object. The University is part of a
      European consortium that is investigating the occurrence of flutter in axial turbomachinery blades that form
      part of aircraft engines. The project will require the student to simulate the results of current flutter
      experiments being conducted on the department’s test facilities.

      1 MSc student can be accommodated.

29.      Turbomachinery
      Prof Theo von Backström

      The Department is known as a national centre of expertise in the field of turbo-machinery. New insights have
      been developed into the performance of axial fans under cross-flow inlet conditions, into the performance of
      axial compressors under extreme conditions such as back flow, reversed rotation and negative pressure
      difference and into the prediction of slip factor in centrifugal impellers. The Department has access to typical
      CFD codes and specialised turbomachinery design and CFD codes. The proposed project investigates the
      effect of blade thickness on slip factor. Thesis topics related to other turbomachines are also available.

      Funding is available. Terms and conditions apply.
 Renewable and Sustainable Energy
 The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) works across various disciplines within
 engineering and management to do research in this field.                  Please visit their web site at
 www.sun.ac.za/crses/html/research_topics.htm for specific topics. A number of MScEng and PhD student can be
 accommodated and funding is usually available.

30.    Solar thermal energy systems (MScEng or PhD)
      Prof Theo von Backström

      The national hub for renewable and sustainable energy is situated in the Department and so are the national
      centres of expertise in wind and solar thermal power systems. Various projects aimed at improving our
      understanding of the operation and design of renewable energy systems, including thermal energy storage
      systems have been started. The Department has a solar turbine test rig and various wind tunnels. It has
      access to typical CFD codes and to specialised turbomachinery design and CFD codes and computer
      clusters. The optimal layout of a gas turbine based solar power system with storage is to be investigated.
      Commercial and self generated software may be used in the modelling and optimisation. The project may
      result in the design and possible assembly of a small power generating system. Other thesis topics in these
      fields are available, ranging from applied to theoretical.

      Funding is available. Terms and conditions apply.

31.   Thermal energy storage (MScEng)
      Prof Theo von Backström

      Current thermal energy storage topics include thermal storage in rock beds and in eutectic metal alloys.
      Related topics are the investigation of the use of AlSi12 as phase change heat storage material and NaK as
      heat transfer fluid, as well as mechanisms, like ultrasound, to prevent the separation of the eutectic
      components. Thermal energy storage may also have applications in the power generation and chemical
      process industry

      Funding is available. Terms and conditions apply.

32.    Water wave energy pump
      Prof Gerrie Thiart

      A crude piston-type wave energy pump has been built and is being tested at this Department (the tests are
      performed in our towing tank, which incorporates a wave generator). Preliminary results are encouraging, but
      the mechanics of the pump, i.e. the combination of piston diameter, stroke, etc. needs to be optimized for a
      given wave spectrum. The study will include
       an optimization analysis,
       a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis, using commercial software, to support the optimization
        analysis, and
       experimental verification of improvements to the current pump.
      The desired deliverable, apart from the required thesis report and journal/conference paper, is a software tool
      that will produce a feasible design for such a water wave energy pump, with the wave spectrum and desired
      pump performance parameters (e.g. hydraulic head) as inputs.

      Funding is being negotiated with interested parties; if successful it will be possible to support 1 MScEng
      student financially.

33.    Wave energy
      Prof Wikus van Niekerk

      South Africa has an extended coastline with a variety of sea conditions. In the 1970s the Ocean Energy
      Research Group (OERG) at Stellenbosch University did substantial research on utilising wave energy. It was
      found that the SA coast line has at certain locations up 45 kW/m crest length and the Stellenbosch Wave
      Energy Converter was designed and verified through model testing. This project, initially funded by De
      Beers/Anglo American, Boart, LTA, and Murray & Roberts was shelved.
      Over the past twenty years a number of new devices converting the kinetic energy of waves, tides and
      currents to mechanical and electrical energy have been developed. Some of these make use of underwater
      turbines while others use mechanical links and pumping motions.
      In this study the work of the OERG, as well as other available information will be revisited. A survey of
      existing devices compiled and matched with the available sites along the SA coast. Part of the analysis will
      include estimating the cost and efficiencies of the available sites. A new patent on a device that will be
      installed in a harbour wall was registered last year and a number of projects associated with this project are

      Funding is available in the form of bursaries from the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies

34.    Solar Power Generation
      Prof DG Kröger

      The performance characteristics of a new, highly efficient solar power generation cycle is to be critically
      evaluated and compared to alternative concepts. The proposed cycle includes novel trough collectors to
      preheat air entering a gas turbine. An experimental air heater is to be constructed and tested to determine its
      suitability for application in the proposed cycle.

      Funding is available for MScEng or PhD students.

35.    Solar Power Plant Cooling
      Prof DG Kröger

      Solar thermal power plants are usually located in relatively hot and arid areas of the world where there is very
      little or no water for cooling. You are required to evaluate and optimise the performance characteristics of a
      hybrid (dry/wet) cooling system for cooling a highly efficient (SUNSPOT) solar power plant located in a very
      dry part of the world.

      Funding is available for MScEng or PhD students

36.   Investigation of the energy potential of municipal urban waste water
      Dr Ben Sebitosi

      (**This project is a joint venture with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The student
      will get a chance to travel to Kenya as part of the research)

      Water and sewage services form the core of activities in the emerging African urban environment. That much
      energy is required to keep these services going is well known and documented. What has however not been
      investigated, particularly in Africa, is the potential energy that could be recovered from waste water.
      Anaerobic treatment of waste water dissipates methane, a biofuel gas. There is also an additional possibility
      of extracting the kinetic energy as the treated water gets discharged back into the natural ecosystems. The
      extraction of such energy could immensely contribute to the economic sustainability of the often struggling
      water and sewerage departments in the ever enlarging African cities. Moreover this would also arrest the
      methane gas, a very potent green house gas that often escapes from the sewage treatment plants into the
      atmosphere. Additional benefits could also be obtained from the sludge that can be sold as fertiliser.

      Problem statement
      In South Africa the potential energy content of urban waste water and hence the impact this could contribute
      to urban economic growth, energy security and environmental sustainability are not known.
      Key research questions
      The research questions to be answered are:
           a. What is the status of urban waste water management in South African cities?
           b. What are the volumes and technologies involved in waste water management?
           c. What is currently the environmental impact of urban waste water management or lack thereof?
           d. What are the levels of energy potential of urban waste water?
           e. What additional benefits can one harvest from urban waste water
           f. What are the most appropriate energy conversion technologies in the given
           g. circumstances?
           h. What would be the financial and environmental impact of such developments?

      There is limited NRF and ESKOM funding available for 2 masters and one PhD student
37.   Solar-driven steam ejector based refrigeration system
      Dr Ben Sebitosi

      Investigate the theory of the function of the state-of-the-art ejector refrigeration system. This technology is
      identified as suitable for air-conditioning rather than refrigeration. The main attraction with the technology is
      that in summer it utilises the very solar radiation that causes the heat. In particular solar radiation is a clean
      renewable source that is available throughout South Africa.
      In this project you will be required to design and construct a prototype of an ejector air-conditioning system
      that can use solar energy. Evaluate its annual performance in Stellenbosch. [Ref: J.M. Abdulateef *, K.
      Sopian, M.A. Alghoul *, M.Y. Sulaiman Review on solar-driven ejector refrigeration technologies. Renewable
      and Sustainable Energy Reviews].

      Using an appropriate cost model you will show how cost effective such a technology would be in South Africa.

      There is limited NRF and ESKOM funding available for 2 masters and one PhD student

38.   Student’s own original proposal
      Dr Ben Sebitosi

      As an alternative to the above proposals students (particularly those wishing to pursue PhD studies) with
      interest in the renewable and sustainable energy area of research are invited to submit their own proposals.
      These proposals will then be reviewed and accepted or rejected depending or specific merit.

      There is limited NRF and ESKOM funding available for 2 masters and one PhD student

39.   Exploring energy optimisation opportunities in the agricultural sector in S Africa
      Dr Ben Sebitosi

      The farming sector in South Africa forms an important component of the economy for both local and export
      business. It is a major consumer of energy and water. In the current situation of energy shortages and tariff
      increases farming offers a great opportunity for energy savings and reducing the need to build more
      generation plants and transmission infrastructure. In terms of export competiveness high electricity bills mean
      that South African exports cannot compete favourably on the international market. Cutting these bills down
      especially when tariffs are set to rise would offer a great advantage to agro-produce exporters.

      However is the energy bill really a concern for the stakeholders in the agricultural sector??

      Assuming that it is not perceived as such, there is the imperative for low carbon and water footprints. These
      could be used to ban agricultural imports from South Africa.

      Is the Agricultural sector well sanitized on such issues??

      This project aims to study and take an audit of energy consumption in the agricultural sector and to propose
      conservation measures. A case study will be carried out of a wine estate’s energy usage. Areas of energy
      conservation will be identified. A proposal will be made of measures that can be taken to improve the energy
      wastage. A practical implementation will be carried out in one specific area. A cost analysis will be made of
      the capital cost required and an estimate of payback time will be made.

      There is limited NRF and ESKOM funding available for 2 masters and one PhD student

40.    Like the previous item but exploring energy optimisation in any sector that the candidate may be
      interested in.
      Dr Ben Sebitosi

      There is limited NRF and ESKOM funding available for 2 masters and one PhD student

41.   Engine Testing of Bio-fuels
      Mr Richard Haines

      Towards the end of 2008, Members of the European Parliament requested that at least 4% of renewable
      transport fuels consumed should be second generation bio-fuels, hydrogen or electricity. Second generation
      bio-fuels are produced mainly from non-food crops, wood, algae or agricultural waste and the fuels can be
      produced for either spark-ignition (petrol) or compression-ignition (diesel) engines. The motor industry
      supports the sustainable production of bio-fuels and undertakes research and testing on the range of
      alternative fuels for various engines types.
      The existing engine test laboratory provides for basic bio-diesel engine testing. Bio-ethanol is produced for
      use in spark-ignition engines. The laboratory does not have an existing set-up for testing spark-ignition
      engines and fuels. However, once established, this infrastructure could be used to support the bio-ethanol
      research undertaken by the Department of Process Engineering. Therefore, there are opportunities for thesis
      topics in the areas of infrastructure development and engine and bio-fuels testing.

      Funding is available for 1 MScEng student.

42.   Concentrating Solar Thermal: GIS Mapping of South Africa for Suitable CSP Plant Sites
      Mr Paul Gauché, Mr Riaan Meyer

      This project is a continuation of the work done by Fluri (1) and others to map suitable land for the deployment
      of large scale solar thermal power plants.

      Identification of all suitable land in South(ern) Africa for the deployment of solar energy related projects
      including (but not limited to) utility scale CSP plants based on multiple criteria such as solar resource data,
      weather data, geology, geography, vegetation sensitivity and infrastructure.
      Fluri, T P, The Potential of Concentrating Solar Power in South Africa, Energy Policy Journal, Vol. 37,
      pp5075-5080, 2009

      Funding for 1 MScEng depending on priorities

43.   Concentrating Solar Thermal: Development of Sensible Heat Thermal Energy Storage Structures
      Mr Paul Gauché

      Thermal energy storage (TES) is a major research area worldwide for CSP. Researchers are looking for
      lower cost and more sustainable solutions. In high temperature central receiver systems, rock and industrial
      waste may be suitable as material for TES. Much work is required to find ways to contain material due to poor
      mechanical properties yet provide optimal thermal properties at lowest cost.

      Development and optimization of sensible heat energy storage system for power generation systems typically
      much bigger than 1MW in size. The focus on this project is on fundamental research and development of the
      storage material and the heat transfer mechanisms, not the storage system (design) itself. Investigating
      shapes ranging from random (as in crushed rock beds) to uniform (cuboidal, spherical, other) to more exotic
      solutions by looking at the interactions between the packed flow channels and the material is a major
      component of the project. The ultimate goal is cost reduction with a sustainable solution.

      Funding for 1 MScEng depending on priorities.

44.   Concentrating Solar Thermal: Central Receiver System Pilot Plant Component R&D
      Mr Paul Gauché (supervisors also include: Prof Kröger, Prof von Backström and others)

      The Solar Energy Research Group (SERG) is planning to lead the development and deployment of a
      complete central receiver based CSP pilot plant based on the SunSPOT concept (Kröger). Mr Gauché will
      lead the system integration research on this effort but multiple ongoing projects are required to make this
      project a success. Areas needing research include: System thermodynamic modelling; component modelling;
      thermal energy storage R&D; condenser cooling R&D; heliostat field R&D etc.

      Depending on availability of students and skills matching, research can be conducted in a variety of areas
      pertaining to the project. Thermodynamic, heat transfer and other modelling methodologies will need to be
      developed. Experimental research will be required on thermal energy storage using a new experimental rig
      heating material to over 600°C. Condenser cooling research appropriate to the pilot plant needs optimization
      etc. The research may be directly or indirectly applied to the pilot plant. Validation may occur in a laboratory
      environment or later, at the pilot plant site.

      Funding is available for several MScEng & PhD students – will require verification with suitable supervisor.
45.   Adaptive Thermal Engineering
      Mr Robert Dobson

      Adaptive engineering makes use of naturally occurring physical phenomena such as wind, temperature
      induced density gradients, absorption heating and evaporative cooling to thermally manage and control our
      environment in a sustainable fashion. The basic idea is to limit the use of non-renewable energy consuming
      devices such as motors, pumps and compressors and active control devices. In this regard the following
      projects may be considered: i) a passive downdraft evaporative cooling (PDEC) whereby a building may be
      “air conditioned”; ii) the design, construction and testing of a night sky radiation system to demonstrate the
      feasibility of controlling the temperature of a room to within comfortable limits; iii) CFD and experimental
      optimisation and validation of a wind-catcher for a downdraft roof air inlet; iv) Thermodynamically driven water
      pump using a natural circulation loop and no mechanically moving pumps and parts and no active controls;
      and v) similar project initiated by the student themselves.

      Funding will be available for MSc Eng, MENG and PhD students.

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