NRF funding to boost Blue Energy research at MUT

R Tumba

The news broke this Thursday, 3 November 2020 in the morning when NRF officially notified Dr Kaniki Tumba, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Thermodynamics-Materials-Separations Research Group (TMSRG) in the Department of Chemical Engineering, of its decision to support Blue Energy research at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT). This will be done over three years (2021-2023) as part of the NRF competitive support programme for rated researchers.

“This grant is significant as funding opportunities for non-COVID-19-related research shrunk over the last 10 months,” said Dr Tumba. Furthermore, it is a notable boost for ground-breaking Blue Energy research at MUT. To date, no other African research group is involved in research on this type of energy. According to Dr Tumba, the NRF has acknowledged the pioneering role MUT researchers intend to play in the emerging field of Blue Energy on the African continent.

Blue Energy is a form of renewable ocean energy obtained from the mixing of seawater with either fresh water at a river mouth, or concentrated salt water discarded from desalination plants. In this project, MUT researchers will provide comprehensive techno-economic data related to the design and construction of a pilot salinity gradient power station for electricity generation in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, using reverse electro dialysis. Chinese researchers from Hebei University of Technology, eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality Process Engineers, as well as MUT researchers from other Engineering departments will also collaborate in this multidisciplinary project.