Energy and Supply chains in Biomass Production and Processing Systems
Renewable energy is a rapidly growing field and we pursue a range of relevant and interesting topics. However, while renewable energy is interesting, it is equally important to ensure that the biomass feed-stocks are delivered at the processing facilities in an organised, planned and consistent manner. Supply chain logistics and system synchronisation and integration is also one of our key research fields. We investigate diagnostics tools and management approaches that will help streamline these complex multi-stakeholder integrated biomass production and processing systems. Current research topics include:
- The development and monitoring of Performance Based Standard (PBS) Smart Vehicles for agricultural produce transportation.
- Integrated sugarcane production and processing systems diagnostics and management.
- Road Traffic Management System accredited vehicles.Ethanol powered diesel engines.
- The transportation of biomass types, such as sugarcane, cane trash and timber.
Optimal sugarcane vehicle loading regimes.
- Tools to design and evaluate shortcut routes to streamline the supply chain.
- Energy and carbon footprint measurements and calculations in energy crops
Irrigation, Soil & Water Engineering
Irrigation, soil and water engineering remain vital to sustainable agricultural development and food security across the world and Africa in particular. One of Africa Union vision for agriculture is to improve productivity of agriculture to achieve an annual production growth rate of 6 %, with particular attention to small-scale farmers by the year 2015. To respond to this call this research group has embarked on continuous research on water resources for irrigation so as to bridge the gap between inefficient and efficient irrigation, soil and water engineering systems. An integrated water resources management approach is central to most of our research fields.
Food Process and Postharvest Engineering
Food processing industry is one of the sectors with rapid development in the African continent. To support this rapidly growing industry our research group is currently focusing on research related to a multi disciplinary areas of Food Process Engineering, development of Food Preservation Techniques including for small scale food processors, renewable energy utilization in food processing and preservation and air conditioning engineering for biological commodities. Our food process engineering laboratory is equipped with the most recent processing and storage equipment as well as analytical instruments. Our current research topics include:
- Engineering properties of biological materials
- Development of agricultural processing machinery
- Cooling technologies for product storage and transportation
- Innovative food processing and packaging technologies
- Modelling of mass and heat transfer in agricultural products
- Modelling of food systems
- Mass and energy balances in agro-processing
- Food process simulation and optimization
- Agricultural product quality assessments and safety engineering
- Solar energy in agro-processing and food preservation
- Wind and hydro-energy
- Anaerobic digestion of biomass from plant origins and animal waste for use in home scale food processing
- Sustainable biomass-to-energy conversion systems
- Energy efficiency in agro-processing
- Air conditioning for biological commodities micro-environments