MSc (Eng) Project title An Industrial Ecology Approach to Salts-related, Environmental Sustainability Problems at the Large, Inland Secunda Complex
(Supervisors: Prof H von Blottnitz, Prof AE Lewis, Prof J-P Franzidis) Graduated: 2011
The South African economy relies primarily on the industrial activities of several large industrial growth centres located around mineral deposits and harbour sites. These complexes are typically simultaneously large consumers of water and located remote from the country’s major river systems. The central role of these industrial hubs in the country’s economic growth necessitates the long-term sustainability of their wealth-generating activities. Accordingly, the implementation of a carefully integrated and sustainable relationship between the natural water supply and these water-intensive hubs (Brent et al 2008) appears to be crucial for managing this precarious situation effectively. At the Secunda Complex however, this is not reflected in reality. In particular, environmental sustainability problems are expressed by significant water use (and waste) and large “salts footprints” by the various industrial activities in the Complex. To date there appears to be no apparent techno-economic solution to these salts and water problems. This project formed part of a larger Water Research Commission project and entailed an assessment of the potential synergy within the Secunda Complex for the reuse of water and waste energy between industries and the recovery of salt products to reduce imports into this water-stressed and salt-sensitive area. These opportunities were facilitated by the implementation of integrated technological solutions. The project explored the hypothesis that, if integrated successfully into the Secunda complex, technological interventions developed by a holistic, systems thinking approach will result in an environmentally more attractive solution than the present situation, and may present viable opportunities for industrial ecology in the Complex and the larger Highveld region.
Peer-reviewed journal publications
Ras, C. and Von Blottnitz, H. 2012. A comparative life cycle assessment of process water treatment technologies at the Secunda industrial complex, South Africa. Water SA, 38(4): 549-554.
Oral conference presentations
Ras, C., Von Blottnitz, H. and Lewis, A.E. 2010. Addressing salt-related environmental sustainability problems at the Secunda Complex, South Africa: Reverse Osmosis for process water production from low salinity surface water. SAIMM (Western Cape Branch) Conference, Cape Town, 7-8 August 2010.