Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Energy efficiency expert receives prestigious DTI award


Providing small medium micro enterprises (SMMEs) with support in order to develop high efficiency low energy products saw Prof Mohamed Tariq Kahn, Head of CPUT’s Centre for Distributed Power and Electronic Systems, clinch a top award at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Technology Awards.

This annual event celebrates successful research projects which were funded by three Innovation and Technology Programmes set up by the South African government.

This includes the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP), managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Support Programme for Industrial Innovation, managed by the Industrial Development Corporation and the Seda Technology Programme, managed by the Small Enterprise Development Agency.

Prof Khan was declared the national winner in the THRIP SMME Development Category at the awards, which took place on 22 October 2009.

THRIP’s mission is to improve the competitiveness of South African industry, by supporting research and technology development activities and enhancing the quantity of skilled people.

It does this through a partnership programme which challenges private companies to match government funding for innovative research and development in South Africa.

Prof Khan said the award the award is “quite an achievement.”

During the past three years, Prof Khan, provided advice and technical support to three companies that are involved in the production of low energy high efficiency products.

Supported by research assistant Fazel Mongalo , Prof Khan worked on various research projects in collaboration with Phoenix Contact, Green Solutions and LMP Enterprises.

The research projects ranged from the production of low energy cookware to an off-grid project which involved supplying solar or renewable energy to rural villages.

Prof Khan said currently South Africa has an energy capacity of 40 gigawatt, with a usage of 37 gigawatt. Machinery in South Africa alone makes use of 10 gigawatt, he said.

“We have to look as way to use energy more efficiently,” said Prof Khan.

Although South Africa’s energy problems are not as severe as that of other African countries, Prof Khan said the industry must look at decreasing energy use and in turn reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

Prof Khan said he is planning to further research in this area and focus on how to take devices off the energy grid and instead generate power from wind, the sun and other resources more effectively.

Dr Chris Nhlapo, DVC Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships at CPUT said the institution’s Executive Management is excited about the achievements of Prof Khan and his research team.

“It added the necessary impetus in a quest of being a world class innovative university by contributing to the competitiveness of South African industry through research and technology development activities and enhancing the quality and quantity of appropriately skilled people, which is a core mission of THRIP,” said Dr Nhlapo.

He said this achievement proves that CPUT is playing a meaningful role in “bridging the innovation gap” and thus reclaiming its integral role within the National System of Innovation (NSI).

By Candes Keating

Photograph: Prof Mohamed Tariq Kahn who clinched a top award at the Department of Trade and Industry Technology Awards and research assistant Fazel Mongalo.

Written by CPUT News