Global Alliance Africa at Innovate UK KTN partners with Rand Water to find Circular Economy solution to water treatment residue challenge

Posted on: 27/09/2022

In August 2022, Innovate UK KTN met with Rand Water to identify challenge areas for the launch of a joint Global Alliance Innovation Exchange (iX) challenge.

Challenges in the delivery of water and sanitation services are caused by a range of factors. Insufficient water infrastructure, maintenance and investment, recurrent droughts driven by climatic variation, and inequities in access to water and sanitation are to name but a few, some of the regular challenges faced by the South African water sector. Government, private entities and innovators are constantly on the lookout for new methods of preserving water to save energy.

Innovate UK KTN is partnering with Rand Water to address some of these challenges head on through the Global Alliance Africa project Open Innovation model. Open Innovation engages KTN’s bespoke Global Alliance Innovation Exchange (iX) platform to expand business-to-business partnerships, accelerate the penetration of new innovation and increase supply chain robustness and diversification.

Rand Water is the largest bulk water utility in Africa and has been operational for 117 years. Operating as a state-owned entity, it is a bulk water supplier mainly for municipalities, has a distribution network of over 3056km and feeds 58 strategically located service reservoirs.

On 23 August 2022, KTN met with Rand Water to identify challenge areas for the launch of a joint iX challenge. The workshop was opened by the Head of the Rand Water Institute, Dr F Ngoatje, followed by presentations by the Rand Water’s delegation: Mogan Padayachee, James Parsons, Prevashni Naicker and Adil Salojee. They covered the history of the Rand Water treatment sites and identified challenge areas relating to water treatment residue (WTR) which will form the basis of the upcoming KTN/Rand Water iX challenges to be launched in October. Following the workshop, KTN visited the Rand Water Panfontein water treatment site to understand the issues better and inform the next stage of the challenge definition process, prior to the official competition launch.

The Challenge

The disposal of WTR (Water Treatment Residuals) from drinking water treatment works is a global challenge. It consists of suspended material removed from the raw water together with compounds formed when coagulants are added during the treatment process. Rand Water’s situation is unique in that the nature of the raw water and the treatment process may result in the production of a very large mass of WTR being produced in relation to the volume of water treated. WTR produced from Rand Water’s Zuikerbosch and Vereeniging water treatment works is combined and treated at one treatment facility, Panfontein, producing on average 500 to 600 tonnes of dry WTR per day.

Rand Water is therefore looking for solutions to addressing the Rand Water WTR challenge that address the following clear criteria:

  • involves the complete or near complete removal of WTR;
  • eliminates the hazardous nature of the WTR;
  • provides a cost effective and economically viable solution to the problem;
  • has potential for generating new value/ revenue;
  • follows a circular economy model through the potential reuse of chemicals and products;
  • generates clean energy;
  • is environmentally friendly;
  • meets minimum regulatory and statutory requirements, as well as consumer perceptions pertaining to environmental sustainability.

Innovations need to have reached technological maturity, with a preference for late stage solutions that have passed proof of concept stage, are in pilot, are ready to commercialise or are already commercialised.

Next Steps

KTN will now prepare and release the challenge for public competition via the iX platform. The call will be released in October with submissions closing in December. Responses will be filtered and shortlisted candidates will be invited to pitch to Rand Water. The selected Solution Provider will be awarded up to 25,000 GBP in seed funding to pilot and will test activities at the Rand Water Panfontein site.

The piloting and testing of the selected solutions will commence by 2023, aiming to have found viable solutions by the end of 2023.

Rand Water remains committed through its current innovation risk-based strategy to finding solutions that will adequately respond to emerging risks while endeavouring to stay abreast of developing technology trends. Mogan Padayachee, Innovation and Technology Manager at Rand Water, expresses his excitement at the opportunity:

The Innovation Division at Rand Water is determined to find long-term solutions to WTR challenges and we are delighted to be able to do so in partnership with KTN.

To follow this story and hear more about KTN challenges and opportunities, subscribe to our Global Alliance newsletter here.

 

About Global Alliance Africa

The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Four project-level interventions were piloted in 2021 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with one of the interventions focused on Open Innovation.

For more information about the project, please visit https://ktn-uk.org/programme/africa.

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Global Alliance Africa is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and FCDO.

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