|I am the Interim Research Leader for the DSI/NRF SARChI Clean Coal Technology (CCT) of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. My goal in terms of research is to establish innovative solutions for the clean and responsible production and utilization of South Africa’s unique coal as the country and the world moves towards the Just Transition.
The major themes of my research have been coal science and technology, mineral/ore beneficiation and renewable energy (biomass & RDF utilization). More recently, I have focussed on the advancement of low-emissions power generation technologies with specific application to South Africa and developing high-value low-volume carbon products from coal and biomass.
My earliest research involved corrosion followed by fly ash utilization, and detailed characterisation and performance testing of a wide range of coals using innovative analytical and beneficiation technologies. The aim was to achieve the best possible quality products for use in both currently operating boiler plant as well as the new advanced and cleaner coal-fired power generation technologies of the future. For the above purposes, I have utilized a range of specialised separation and concentration technologies (wet and dry) to test South Africa coals, both in South Africa and in the University of Kentucky, USA. One technology, the “Tribo-electrostatic separator” was, specifically designed and built for fine coal dry beneficiation during my post-doctoral research, with a second dry coal beneficiation separator “Windsifter” designed and fabricated in 2020.
More recent work has involved research and development in hybridisation technologies in which the poor-grade coals are co-fired with different forms of biomass “Bamboo and refuse derived fuels” (a renewable and sustainable energy source) leading to low-carbon (CO2). In addition, results from biomass research to date have led to the production of pelletized hydrochar/fine coal “biocoal” as a valuable clean energy resource and the susceptibility of the products to spontaneous combustion. Linked to understanding the likely behaviour of coal and its components in a variety of situations throughout the coal value chain as led to the research on the upgrade of specific coals as “coking coal” for metallurgical application. The additional research within the SARChI CTC GROUP, which I lead aims to further enhance the contribution of coal to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (clean and affordable energy), while utilizing South Africa’s high ash discard coal for non-energy applications. This includes high quality and low volume products, such as activated carbon for gas storage, Super-capacitors for energy storage, ceramic coal composites, beneficiation and recovery of rare earth elements using the integration of different techniques from unique South African coal etc.
In each category of Clean Coal Technology (CCT) research. I have acquired valuable experience as well as imparted that expertise to my students, with over 20 postgraduates to completion and 23 on-going.