Research flagship projects
The primary responsibility of the Research and Innovation portfolio is to provide strategic leadership in research and innovation which contributes meaningfully to socially relevant knowledge production that impacts on technology, industry and society. Thus, its aim is to produce research excellence in all academic fields at the university and across all six colleges: Economic and Management Sciences; Law; Human Sciences; Education; Engineering, Science and Technology and Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
In order to achieve these goals a number of flagship projects have been identified. We list a few of the most prominent ones below.
First up is the Fog Harvesting Project, undertaken in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Simply put, by harvesting fog, the college has found that it is able to obtain water of a quality that conforms to the standards of the World Health Organisation. And with the ability to harvest literally hundreds of litres of water every day, the project can provide a lifeline to rural communities with little or no access to clean and pure water.
The college has numerous other "flagships" including contract farming (concentrating on agricultural production by small-scale farmers and improving and simplifying this); a "thermal spring project" (investigating the physical and chemical characteristics, their sustainability and potential for energy and other uses), and infants' exposure to toxic minerals (studying the impact of various minerals on the health of infants living in mining areas).
In other colleges, Micro and Macro Economic Modelling (in the College of Economic and Management Sciences) provides methods to research current trends and predict important future trends. These include macro-econometric modelling, inflation modelling, labour market modelling, economic impact modelling, income and expenditure modelling and early economic growth indicator modelling.
The College of Science, Engineering and Technology has several research projects that also train postgraduate students, centering on climate change, poverty and pollution of soil and water - all factors which affect South Africa as well as other African countries. Meanwhile, the field of Ecotoxicology research includes concepts arising from disciplines such as toxicology; biology and molecular biology; environmental (soil, water and air) sciences; analytical and organic chemistry; nano-chemistry; biochemistry; physiology; ecology; genetics; microbiology; immunology and economics. Another of the college's flagship projects is “Fuel cell and nanotechnology.
” Most of the energy needed for domestic and industrial consumption comes from only one natural source - fossil fuel. This situation makes the world fossil fuel demand out-step the fossil fuel production and has resulted in an energy crisis due to shortage in supply and price instability. The initiative focuses on using energy in a wiser fashion in order to minimise environmental hazards, as well as ways of optimising the efficiency with which it is produced.