VUT optimises energy research
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VUT optimises energy research

Figure 1: VUT staff with training facilitators at the Cape Advanced Engineering plant in Atlantis Industrial, Cape Town. From Left: Mr Deilen Hans (CAE), Mr Robert Mac Pherson (VUT), Ms Vhukhudo Matidza (VUT), Mr Kabelo Mamadisa (VUT), Ms Tintswalo Mabuza (VUT), Mr Hanyani Makhuvele (VUT) and Mr Lovell Emslie (Pegasus Consulting).

Selina Rapulane

The newly established Energy Optimisation Unit (EOU) based at the VUT Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park has got off to a flying start. The EOU team has come a long way and proves that hard work pays and can open up many opportunities.

The journey started when The Skills for Green Jobs (S4GJ) Energy Efficiency project was awarded to the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Technology Station (TS), in collaboration with Pegasus Consulting, during a competitive DST/GIZ bidding process in October 2015.

The aim of the project was to develop the technological capability at VUT and to support the broader industry with appropriate skills and technology solutions in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Dual Fuel technology integration. This was done by developing staff and students through experience, practical skills and training and by rearranging organisational structures around the newly acquired equipment.

This resulted in the EOU.  The objective of the EOU is to provide access to professional services and to optimise energy utilisation in industry, the public sector and the VUT institution itself. The EOU also offers energy auditing, which is an analysis and data acquiring of energy flows in a system or process that sets the foundation for developing concepts to reduce the energy consumption without negatively affecting its output.

In October last year, the EOU underwent an energy audit practical training of the VUT Technology, Transfer and Innovation (TTI) building to identify energy saving opportunities and develop concepts to mitigate the energy demand. Measurements of the energy consumption were acquired from the main electrical input to the building. An overall energy audit of the building’s operation and equipment was performed to give a clear indication of the big energy consumers. Thereafter, the measurements obtained were compared to the past data collected and calculations were done to determine the energy consumed in the building and the possible energy savings.

Three VUT staff members: Mr Robert Mac Pherson, Ms Tintswalo Mabuza and Mr Hanyani Makhuvele, obtained their internationally recognised Energy Auditors’ certificates and are able to provide energy auditing services.

In April, EOU staff went for a Combined Heat and Power technology training and evaluation workshop at the Cape Advanced Engineering (CAE) plant in Atlantis Industrial, Cape Town. The training was part of the Skills for Green Jobs project. Five VUT staff were trained and evaluated on the operations of the CHP demonstration unit in preparation for the unit’s handover to VUT.

The training comprised theory and practicals, where the knowledge and skills regarding the equipment and maintenance of the CHP technology were transferred.  The staff members were then evaluated individually on their CHP operating skills and were provided with certificates once the facilitators were satisfied with their results.

Although the EOU is new, it already contains a CHP demonstration unit that is proudly owned by VUT and to which the VUT team contributed in terms of its design, manufacturing and assembling. The CHP demonstration unit will be utilised for research, energy efficiency technology awareness, and industry energy saving demonstrations.

The unit is flying the Science Park flag high and promises to keep doing its best to improve and develop the precinct.

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