CSIR Science Scope - latest Issue
Volumes & issues
Volume 8, Issue 2, 2015
Author Sibusiso SibisiSource: CSIR Science Scope 8 (2015)More Less
The CSIR was est ablished 70 years ago in 1945. While this may appear to be a venerable age, we are - in the South African context - still something of a newcomer. By comparison some of our educational institutions have been around for quite a bit longer (the University of Cape Town is 126 years old, Rhodes University is 111 and even the upstart University of the Witwatersrand has been around for 93 years) as have some of our key industrial and developmental institutions - Eskom is 93 and Transnetis 99. Therefore, we may be justified in thinking that the CSIR is but a stripling, 70 years young and only now entering into our full maturity as a national institution. As with many long-lived South African organisations, we have something of a chequered history - apartheid and the systems that supported it have cast a long shadow over the CSIR's many scientific and technical accomplishments during its first half-century. It is perhaps emblematic of modern South Africa that we are able to reconcile this duality- that we can proudly reflect on the scientific achievements of our predecessors while recognising the fundamental injustice of the system within which those achievements took place.
Source: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 2 –5 (2015)More Less
One of the few constants in the 70-year history of the CSIR is the awareness of, and commitment to, the value that science and technology can deliver to the development of our country. Aside from this, not much else has remained the same. Within the political environment, the CSIR has experienced the upheavals associated with changes in administrations and policies, and of course the rather more significant changes that occurred when South Africa transitioned from an Apartheid to a democratic state.
Author Peta De JagerSource: CSIR Science Scope 8 (2015)More Less
Health outcomes and service delivery are profoundly affected by the built infrastructure that supports them. Disease burdens and service response - which shape health buildings - change over time. Furthermore, these buildings are also required to be environmentally friendly and sustainable despite severe resource constraints in the public health sector. Taking these challenges into account, the CSIR has helped to develop norms, standards and guidelines to support the Department of Health in managing and expanding South Africa's public healthcare facilities in an efficient and sustainable way.
Author Thegaran NaidooSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 10 –11 (2015)More Less
Road defects such as cracks, edge breaks and potholes can have a negative economic and social impact. These road defects can damage motor vehicles, endanger the lives of motorists and pedestrians and lead to more costly road repairs. Timeous identification of road defects can help with the maintenance of road infrastructure. In response to this need, the CSIR developed a visual surveying platform to support road infrastructure inspections.
Creating safer coastal and port infrastructure with innovative physical and numerical modelling : built environmentAuthor Kishan TulsiSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 12 –13 (2015)More Less
Recent innovations have allowed the CSIR coastal and hydraulics laboratory to create more accurate numerical and scaled physical models of coastal and port infrastructure. These models provide invaluable performance measurements of planned coastal infrastructure, such as the design life of a harbour or breakwater. They support infrastructure decisions and shipping operations within a port.
Source: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 14 –15 (2015)More Less
Large cities are amongst the most complex production systems ever built. Land Use Transportation Interaction (LUTI) models are often used to support the equally complex urban planning processes that shape our cities. The CSIR has developed a LUTI model, based on adapted versions of Urban Sim and OpenTripPlanner, which has been used to simulate spatial growth patterns in South Africa to better understand the future demand for infrastructure and services. The model has proven that there is a clear and demonstrated link between public transport and increased accessibility to jobs.
Source: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 16 –17 (2015)More Less
Numerous implementation challenges have led to poor and ineffective service delivery in South Africa. The CSIR assists local government to provide effective and efficient service delivery with the aim of improving the quality of life of South Africans. Its municipal strategic programme support group has developed a three-phased methodology that shapes the identification and implementation of integrated scientific, engineering and technological (SET) solutions to enhance current service delivery levels.
Author Daan VelthauszSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 18 –19 (2015)More Less
Making informed decisions for a city and its inhabitants is difficult since this complex environment is made up of many domains, actors, resources, asset pools, factors and performance criteria. Using smart information and communications technology-based empowered solutions, capable of making sense of the growing amount of data, enables well-informed decisions and sound planning (both in the short and long term).
Author Henrietta LangmiSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 20 –21 (2015)More Less
Finding a way to more easily store hydrogen, at ambient temperatures and without too much added weight or cost, would set hydrogen free as a potential clean energy alternative to fossil fuels. The CSIR is examining three possible options for hydrogen storage, namely storage in high pressure gas cylinders, storage in the form of chemical carriers and materials-based storage.
Advanced energy storage : creating impact for next-generation lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors : energyAuthor Kenneth I. OzoemenaSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 22 –23 (2015)More Less
Lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors are critical energy storage systems that power our smart phones, laptop computers, electric vehicles, smart grids and even our homes. They also play a role in decreasing the necessity for load shedding by alleviating the pressure on the national grid. The CSIR is developing the next-generation lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors using some of the country's abundant mineral resources.
Source: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 24 –25 (2015)More Less
The first wind and solar photovoltaic projects that were connected to the South African national power grid in 2014 resulted in a net financial benefit to the country of R0.8 billion. In a subsequent study the CSIR has determined that in the first six months of 2015, wind and solar projects created R4 billion more financial benefits to the country than what these projects cost. This seems to indicate a trend where the financial benefit of renewables in South Africa far exceeds their cost.
Author Eugene MabilleSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 26 –27 (2015)More Less
With the increasing development of wind farms in South Africa as a renewable energy source, it has become ever more important to identify and map the country's wind resources. Due to the lack of this information, the Department of Energy, the CSIR and other partners embarked on the Wind Atlas for South Africa project, intended to be an aid to wind farm developers as well as for decision-makers in government and entities such as Eskom regarding grid planning as well as for industrial development.
Smoothing out the volatility of South Africa's wind and solar photovoltaic energy resources : energySource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 28 –29 (2015)More Less
Wind speeds can vary greatly from minute to minute, and cloud cover/movement can cause the output of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy sources to vary. As a result, solar and wind power naturally and continuously fluctuates. The CSIR has embarked on research focusing on smoothing out the inherent volatility and fluctuations from wind and PV energy resources in South Africa. A key finding has been that when wind and PV plants are spatially distributed, it can result in a smoothing effect on the power output and also be made predictable.
Author Alfred HartzenburgSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 30 –31 (2015)More Less
The National Development Plan, when focusing on environmental matters, calls for South Africa to foster economic development with the least impact on the environment; move to a low carbon economy with less dependence on fossil fuels; introduce mixed sources of energy; and make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and less socio-economically vulnerable. In response to this, the Industrial Energy Efficiency Project has, between mid-2010 and July 2015, helped participating companies save 1 340 GWh of energy and R1.1 billion in energy costs. It has created or preserved an estimated 5 704 jobs within local communities with investment payback periods of generally less than two years.
Source: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 32 –33 (2015)More Less
The shortage of expert skills and limited access to diagnostic tools and equipment are challenges in parts of South Africa's healthcare system. The CSIR collaborates with government to develop point-of-care diagnostic and screening tools which allow healthcare workers to efficiently and timeously diagnose a patient at a clinic or in the community.
Author Matthew ChettySource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 34 –35 (2015)More Less
E-health - the use of information and communications technology in healthcare - is imperative for South Africa's re-engineering of its primary healthcare system and the development of a National Health Insurance system. The CSIR has been actively involved in various e-health initiatives, including the development of norms and standards for e-health, the implementation of a national patient registration system and the assessment of existing health information systems.
Author Zodwa MbamboSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 36 –37 (2015)More Less
The CSIR embarked on an integrated nutrition intervention pilot programme in five schools in Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape with the aim of supporting government to provide nutrient rich food-stuff to improve the learning ability of learners. Researchers developed a nutritional drink from a combination of food products such as sorghum, soya, milk as well as local and indigenous leafy vegetables. CSIR researchers are currently evaluating the bio-accessibility of the micronutrients in the drink to the human body to determine the nutritional value of the drink.
Author Asongwe TantohSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 38 –39 (2015)More Less
Did you know?
What does RNA stand for? Ribonucleic Acid, and it is similar to DNA.
Ribo - This is short for ribose and it is apentose sugar. The sugar group in DNA is dexoyribose.
Nucleic - Refers to the fact that it originates in the nucleus.
Acid - It is an acidic compound. RNA is an intermediary between DNA, which houses the instructions to make a protein, and the ribosomes, which are a cell's protein making factory. It carries out its role by transcribing the genetic instructions inside the nucleus by producing a complementary strand of RNA. It is a copy of a segment of DNA.
Author Janine ScholefieldSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 40 –41 (2015)More Less
Scientists at the CSIR, in collaboration with scientists at Institute Pasteur and the Université Paris-Descartes, have identified the first visual proof of complex intra-cellular structures acting as pre-formed regulators of the immune response. The work emphasises how super-resolution microscopy can provide novel insights into the single-molecule mechanisms of genetic disorders, as well as crucial cellular interactions.
Eradicating malaria : exploiting advances in disease modelling to develop new generation drugs against malaria transmission : healthAuthor Dalu MancamaSource: CSIR Science Scope 8, pp 42 –43 (2015)More Less
The CSIR, in collaboration with several partner institutions, has begun screening vast libraries of synthetic compounds that could be used in a new generation of antimalarial drugs. These drugs will disrupt the life cycle of the parasite (that causes malaria), paving the way for the eradication of the disease. Compounds have already been identified that meet the criteria and exhibit the ideal characteristics required for further development.