The Centre for Renewable Energy and Water (CREW) held its bi-annual conference at the VUT Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park on 24 and 25 November 2016. The title of the conference was International Conference on Environment, Materials and Green Technology, which attracted international delegates with keynote speakers from Italy, Kenya and Southern Africa.
The theme of the conference was: “Global Environmental Challenges and Emerging Materials and Technologies”. CREW, at the Vaal University of Technology, is a multi-faculty centre of excellence which centres on the management of water and wastewater and the generation of renewable energy, with a special focus on applied research.
The conference thus aimed to develop collaboration and promote a research culture among academics in different disciplines, both internally and externally. The conference also served as a platform to find ways to improve the quality of water for both human and animal consumption.
Delegates responded very positively and the conference was well attended by 120 academics, students and people with common interests. Academics from various universities presented papers which gave way to debates after each one. Pertinent topics included the increase in contamination of water that is escalating to cancer in humans, integrated systems for water management and energy generation
It was also noted that some correlations between a few of the presentations existed and this prompted participation for further dialogue.
CREW Director and leading global authority in the field, Prof Ochieng Aoyi, said in his welcome to guests: “The principles embedded in CREW are encoded on four pillars, these being Chemistry, Biotechnology, Civil Engineering and Computer Sciences. The CREW team works collectively to set a research agenda that is sustainable and will play a role on the whole continent. They also believe that success comes when collaborative efforts are exercised. We enjoy the fruits of success individually as we create legacy that bears fruits for generations to come.
“The current global trend is that human activities are continuously depleting natural resources at a rate that, if left uncontrolled, could lead to irreversible environmental catastrophe. Various forms of human activities are, directly or indirectly, related in such a way that the performance of one entity is enhanced or negatively affected by another. Similarly, the impact of our research outputs can be greatly enhanced if the inter-relationship that exists among our activities is harnessed to maximise mutual benefit.”
Prof Michael Pillay: Programme Director appealed to delegates: “Research conducted has shown that 80 percent of the current human race departs from the world without a single original thought. The question is: ‘Where do you belong’? Let’s share ideas and let there be a trend of original thoughts.”
Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Irene Moutlana shared facts on water under the topic: “The War Waged against the Source of Life; Water”.
“War knows no victory and, with the water shortages and all elements of nature conspiring against human nature, researchers are needed to think of a tangible output to stop the onslaught. The importance of water should be infused in curriculums for everyone to understand the importance of managing it… water and environmental pollution know no boundary,” she said.
Parallel presentation sessions were held giving researcher’s opportunities to share and present their research findings. Poster presentations were reviewed and the best three were awarded for the scientific merit and clarity.