Funded Projects 2017-2021

Resulting from a bilateral German-South African call in 2016 twelve projects were selected for funding for the period 2017-2021. The research areas cover bio-economy, resource efficiency and sustainable resource technologies for mineral resources including water resource management.

The aim of the joint German-South African call was to intensify cooperation between South Africa and Germany in the fields of science, research and technology.

In the selection process for projects to be funded, particular emphasis was placed on the scientific excellence of the South African and German partners as well as the involvement of young scientists from both countries.

Funded joint research projects are within the following broad thematic area bio-economy and resource management prioritised by South Africa / Germany collaboration. Sub-topics include:

  • Using renewable resources in sustainable industrial biotechnology processes to enable next generation technologies
  • Resource efficiency and sustainable resource technologies for mineral raw materials
  • Urban water resource management (including informal settlements) and water resource management for sustainable production of raw materials (including remediation technologies of waters)

Background information

 Launching workshop 30/31 March 2017 | German - South African S&T Call 2016


Forschungslabor © Srećko Stopić
© Srećko Stopić
water management

AddWater – AMD treatment technologies for maximum value extraction and near zero waste generation

This project aims at reducing the environmental footprint of processing acid mine drainage (AMD) by developing a robust process flowsheet. Focus will be given to efficient removal of heavy metals, and subsequent treatment of the generated waste stream to reclaim value and to minimise waste generation. The promotion of R&D between the research partners in the subject of AMD will lead to the development of a new procedure for selective production of metals and their oxides using cascade neutralisation and precipitation with an additional processing step via ultrasonic spray pyrolysis for the preparation of nanosized and submicron gold particles. An additional treatment of formed slime will be investigated in order to study the kinetics of the reduction processes.

Learn more...

Forschungslabor © BGR, Dr. Sabrina Hedrich
© BGR, Dr. Sabrina Hedrich
resource efficiency

BioPGE – Process development for bioleaching of platinum ores

South Africa owns 70% of the worldwide resources of platinum group elements (PGE), which are important for the manufacture of high-tech applications. In this project, biomining will be applied for the production of PGE and other valuable elements from ores, residues and flotation concentrates. The goal of the project is to increase the extraction efficiency of the valuable metals and the productivity and to reduce the burden on the environment.

Learn more...

Grafik zum Thema Katalysatoren © Dr. Gonzalo Prieto
© Dr. Gonzalo Prieto
bio economy

CAT2BIOL – Towards the selective production of 2nd generation bio-alcohols in zero-waste biorefineries

Industrial catalytic processes exist to convert (bio)-synthesis gas into methanol or paraffin products. However, at present, there is no process yet to produce selectively higher alcohols, even though these would be preferred products, due to their advantageous features both as liquid energy carriers as well as platform chemicals. The aim of the project is to develop solid catalysts for this process.

Learn more...

Flaggen von Deutschland und Südafrika resource efficiency

Effititan – Resource Efficient Production of High Added Value Titanium Components

The objective of the planned project is the development and realisation of resource efficient process chains for the production of high-complexity titanium components for the aerospace industry. In addition to the efficient utilisation of resources the manufacturing costs are to be reduced significantly: Strategies are being developed to use appropriate preforms in the production of the components and to optimise the finishing of the preforms by using highly efficient tools.

Learn more...

Illustration Wasserqualität: Frau an einem Ufer © Dr. Ulrich Hilleringmann
© Dr. Ulrich Hilleringmann
water management

KoSeWaqua – Cost-effective sensor chip for water quality analysis

The goal of the project is the development of a low-cost sensor for the quality analysis of water. A microsystem is built up in the form of a credit card format, which, in addition to salts and heavy metals, can also detect organic constituents in sewage and mine wastewater - with sufficient sensitivity also in drinking water. The predominantly physical measuring methods used are intended to provide information on the degree of contamination of the water within a few minutes instead of the extensive laboratory analysis.           

Learn more...

Schaubild © Dr. George Dragan
© Dr. George Dragan
resource efficiency

MTSD – Innovative monitoring technologies for sustainable development: bioeconomy, raw material efficiency, air quality

Within the project, novel air monitoring technologies will be developed. These are used to measure pollutant emissions from motorised machines in subterranean platinum mines in South Africa, for pollutant measurements during the combustion of sugar cane residues in South Africa, and for the analysis of emissions in a pilot plant biorefinery that converts biomass residues into fuels in Germany. The project will be supported by the Sugarcane Research Institute, the Impala Platinum Mines and by Bioliq.

Learn more...

Flaggen von Deutschland und Südafrika bio economy

NOVBIOSURF – New microbial surfactants as bio surfactants for commercial use

Environmental issues lead to increased interest in bio-based chemicals such as microbial surfactants (biosurfactants). Although most bio surfactants have promising physical and chemical properties, their true potential is not fully understood. Thus there are other possibilities for commercial use. The project will characterise new bio surfactants candidates with regard to their chemical structure, physical properties and performance parameters.

Learn more...

Flaggen von Deutschland und Südafrika water management

PGEAquaTox – Novel approaches to assess toxicity of platinum-group elements in aquatic environments

The overall aim of this joint project is the assessment of aquatic ecotoxicology of PGE in freshwater systems of the South African mining area. In detail, by using novel approaches the project intend to accomplish the following research aims:

  1. Identify the role of PGE in the socio-ecological health of the Hex River catchment
  2. Gain valuable information on the bioavailability of PGE in aquatic systems from biomonitoring studies with different animals and artificial monitoring devices
  3. Gain knowledge of the effects of PGE on different aquatic animals and identify sensitive organisms
  4. Determine the relative risk of PGE contaminations to aquatic organisms and humans of the South African mining area by using a novel risk assessment tool.

Learn more...

Illustration SLAC © Dr. Jürgen Pleiss
© Dr. Jürgen Pleiss
bio economy

SLAC – Enzyme engineering of the "small laccase" for the synthesis of antioxidants and surface functionalisation

Because of the increasing incidence of diseases caused by oxidative stress, antioxidants have gained considerable interest for prevention and treatment skin cancer and potentially other non-communicable diseases. In this project, natural phenolic antioxidants will be synthesized using a bacterial enzyme. The small laccase (SLAC) is a robust enzyme with high catalytic activity. Protein design will be applied to improve its properties for applications such as synthesis of antioxidants and surface functionalisation.

Learn more...

Flaggen von Deutschland und Südafrika bio economy

SYNDEX – Synergistic degradation of lignocellulose by expansins and enzymes

The digestion of lignocellulose is an important field in the field of biorefinery and the use of renewable raw materials. Novel proteins (expansins) are to be discovered, characterised and made accessible for use in the digestion of lignocellulose and other areas. The project develops a new toolbox of expansins, which facilitates the degradation of lignocellulose-containing biomass by becoming molecular synergisms.

Learn more...

Illustration: “Das Schnitzen” von Molekülen aus Holz © Jason W. Runyon & Anthony J. Arduengo, III
© Jason W. Runyon & Anthony J. Arduengo, III
bio economy

SYNTAX – Sustainable Organic Synthesis with Natural Low Molecular Weight Feedstocks: Applications of Xylochemistry

Implementation of resource-efficient process chains for the production of high-complex titanium components for the aerospace industry. In addition to the efficient handling of resources, the costs are also to be significantly reduced: Strategies are being developed in order to use these preforms in the production of these components and to optimise the finishing of the preforms by using highly efficient tools.

Learn more...

Schaubild © Senta Berner
© Senta Berner
water management

WATNET – Network building and research in water and wastewater management at university level in South Africa and Germany

The aim of the project is to strengthen the collaboration between the partners by furthering research in the field of urban water resource-, nutrient- and energy management. Hereby requirements for water supply and sanitation services to enable a nexus approach in the field of urban water resource management will be investigated, in particular container based sanitation as a key requisite for an integrated sanitation concept in water scarce areas and / or informal settlements. The aim of the project partners is not to transfer knowledge North to South, but to jointly explore new approaches, taking into account the experience of both sides.

Learn more...