Eastern Cape innovations ranging from a breakthrough in rubber technology to an energy-saving egg incubator and a device that helps reduce refrigeration costs were recognised at the second National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation awards.
All the innovations are being developed through the Propella Business Incubator based in Port Elizabeth.
The awards presented at the African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show hosted in Port Elizabeth went to Rubbernano (gold for industry advancement in advanced manufacturing); Rhino Lighting (silver for innovation in advanced manufacturing); Provolution (silver for most promising start-up or newcomer) and Tofaa (most promising start-up or newcomer finalists).
“We are thrilled that Propella played a role in the success of these ventures,” says Propella business incubation manager Anita Palmer.
“We applaud the winners for their tenacity, innovation and obvious passion for their technologies, and look forward to continuing our support of their growth and commercialisation,” she says.
Rubbernano Products (RNP) has developed processes which reduce the amount of zinc oxide and zinc used in the production of rubber used for automotive tyres and other applications.
Micronized particles of zinc enter the environment as the rubber wears, and a number of studies have shown that this contributes substantially to microplastics pollution and health problems due to inhalation.
A 2017 study by researchers form the Open University of Netherlands found that particles released into the environment through tyre wear and tear contribute between 10 and 15 per cent of the total global amount of plastics ending up in our oceans.
For tyre manufacturers the advantages of the RNP products include a reduction in the amount of time needed for curing, and lower power consumption as the rubber cures at a lower temperature.
RNP founder Robert Bosch received a silver for scholarly impact at the inaugural Advanced Manufacturing Innovations Awards held in 2018.
Rhino Lighting recognised at National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation awards
Rhino Lighting’s EndoCube reduces the power consumption of fridges and freezers by between 10 and 30 per cent.
The EndoCube can be retrofitted to the temperature sensor, which then measures the temperature of the products rather than that of the air in the fridge, which changes every time the door is opened.
Using technology developed at Propella the EndoCube also connects to a management and control system which allows greater control over the frozen and chilled stock and provides early warnings for maintenance and repairs.
Tofaa has designed an energy-efficient egg incubator called WillHatch, which consumes 40% less energy than incubators currently on the market.
This means that it is able to run off solar power and can be used by farmers in rural areas.
Provolution is expanding its operations from the design and prototyping of components using 3-D (or additive) manufacturing to semi-mass production.
The company recently installed one of the first resin 3D printers in the Eastern Cape.
Provolution founder Sean Pool received special recognition for scholarly impact in the 2018 awards.
Propella provided support for his research into a new design for small-scale wind turbine blades.
Image: Left to Right Elijah Himunzowa, Tofaa (most promising start-up or newcomer finalist); Heather McEwan, Rhino Lighting (silver for innovation in advanced manufacturing); Damian Williams, Rubbernano (gold for industry advancement in advanced manufacturing), Sean Poole, Provolution (silver for most promising start-up or newcomer, and Kamvalethu Mduli of Tofaa.