As part of the Sida Annual Planning Meeting, the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology successfully hosted the 4th Annual Science Day. The conference and exhibition was characterised by dissemination of research in various areas such and Infrastructure and Land management, Architecture, Urbanism and Planning; Water Resources and Environmental Engineering; Engineering Materials and Applications; Renewable Energy Systems and Rural Electrification; Communication Technology and Geographical Information Systems (ICT&GIS). The exhibition was characterised by both poster and product exhibits. Some of the products exhibited included paper made out of different types of grass, energy saving cooking stoves, dried pineapples, and various improved seeds and solar equipment among other things (see details below). The well attended conference and exhibition drew researchers from across the university to witness the research and innovations coming out of CEDAT.
This was the fourth such day, the previous ones having been held at The College of Health Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & Bio-security.
Dr Katri Pohjolainen Yap, the senior research advisor at the Swedish Embassy commended the researchers on the ground breaking research they have undertaken.
Some of the PhD research included;
Characterisation of Ugandan Selected Grasses and Tree Leaves For Pulp Extraction For Paper Industry
Researcher: Kamoga Omar Lwako
Kamogoa identifies local grass and tree leaves for making paper
The researcher, Kamoga Omar Lwako M is looking at non-wood materials from which pulp and paper can be extracted.
His research was driven by the need to reduce deforestation and the increasing cost of pulp and paper as well as uncertainty of the future supply of wood. The researcher found it necessary to explore alternatives.
He discovered that Non-wood materials such as grasses and shed tree leaves are alternative sources of pulp and paper.
He collected four different grasses and leaves from four different trees from the two regions of the country, Eastern and Central Uganda from both rural and urban areas.
The grasses include lemon grass, sugar cane tops, couch grass and Pasperum. The leaves are those of coniferous tree, Mango tree, Mukokowe (Luganda), and Jack fruit.
In Uganda, Kamoga said there are just three industries for pulp and paper recycling. “One of these industries which had been built to produce virgin pulp from wood was recently turned to paper recycling plant.
He noted that the inadequacy of wood has prompted an attempt to explore alternative sources of pulp for paper industry in Uganda like many other nations that do not have sufficient forests.
Among the non-wood alternative sources of pulp which pose less environmental degradation effects are grasses and shed tree leaves, according to Kamoga.
Kamoga said four different grasses and leaves from four different trees were collected from the two regions of the country, Eastern and Central Uganda from both rural and urban areas.
“Grasses were collected when the straws were bearing mature seeds. The materials were collected from the areas where they grow with economic advantage- where they grow either naturally or planted in big quantities.
The whole stalks above the ground in case of grass or the whole leaflets from shedding trees were sampled and prepared for analyses,” Kamoga explained.
He stated that, according to the chemical composition of the desirable components of the materials evaluated, all the four grasses may be exploited for pulp production.
From the research he said, the ranking in order of priority pulp extraction is that lemon grass is the most promising raw materials, followed by sugar cane tops, paspalum and couch grass.
Because of the high level of dangerous chemical (lignin) content contained in tree leaves, Kamoga said their priority pulp extraction is low.
Advantages of grasses over wood
- Grasses have short growth cycles compared to wood production.
- Also most of them have shown a lower lignin content, which makes chemical and mechanical processes easier.
- Can be used in every grade of paper, paperboards and other composite materials.
- Poses to be less expensive.
Optimal Conductor Size Selection in Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) Power Distribution Networks
Researcher: Geofrey Bakkabulindi
His research was motivated by the high cost of grid extension to rural areas, which are often characterised by scattered communities with low load densities. This means these communities require the use of low cost electrification technologies to ensure economic viability.
In Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) power distribution networks, the earth forms the current return path of the single phase system leading to significant cost savings on conductors, poles and poletop hardware compared to conventional systems.
SWER, however, has its challenges in regard to earthing and safety as well as the dependency on earth conductivity to supply consumer loads.
The researcher set out to present models for optimal planning of SWER power distribution networks.
Improvement of salt mining and processing at Lake Katwe, Uganda
Researcher: Hillary Kasedde
During his investigations, the researcher discovered ten new economically viable types of salts in Lake Katwe.
Thenardite, Anhydrite, Mirabilite, Burkeite, Hanksite, Gypsum, Trona, Halite, Nahcolite, Soda Ash and Thermonatrite are the economic salts he discovered.
The above salts that precipitate from Lake Katwe can be used in the development of other commercially feasible products other than table salt that is largely produced of salt from the lake today.
Kasedde said glass can be made out of Soda Ash and Thermonatrite; Halite is used in processing table salt; and Thenardite is a major material used in the production of fertilizers and animal feed supplements.
Mirabilite is used as a purgative in traditional Chinese medicine; Trona is the primary source of Sodium Carbonate which is mostly used for water softening; Gypsum is used in the making of sculptures and building plaster but can also be utilized as fertilizer;
Nahcolite is a major source of Sodium bicarbonate which is used in making food additives, substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance.
Kassede said Lake Katwe is so rich in salt deposits that it can generate 40 tons of salt for over 40 years.
To come to the above types of salt, Kassede said he obtained samples of salty water (Brine) and evaporates from Lake Katwe and subjected them to field and laboratory analyses in a bid to establish their physical, chemical, mineralogical and morphological composition.
During the study, Kassede also established the solubility and sequence of salt precipitation from the lake water.
“Understanding the sequence of salt precipitation from the brine helps to control its evolution during concentration and hence will lead to an improved operating design scheme of the current extraction processes,” explained Kassede.
He said, he is therefore designing a smooth separation process aimed at extracting the various types of salts discovered above, a move he said eluded past efforts of government to commercialize salt production on Lake Katwe.
According to the researcher, rudimentary methods of salt mining are being employed for salt extraction on the lake, saying they undermine the full economic potential of the mineral.
Currently at Katwe, Kassede noted, Rock salt is extracted from the lake bed and there after broken using iron poles.
Sida through CEDAT supports Innovation clusters that were also present to exhibit the following items;
1. Uganda Quality Mushroom Cluster, located in Kampala District. They exhibited the following products,
- Fresh and Dried Mushrooms
- Mushroom Jewelry
- Mushroom coffee
- Mushroom Soup
2. Kayunga Pineapple processing cluster, located in Kayunga District exhibited
- Fresh Pineapples
- Solar dried Pineapple snacks.
- Pineapple Juice and Wine.
3. Greater Mpigi Coffee Cluster
- Colona Coffee seedlings
- Fresh and Dried coffee beans.
4. Lira Bee keeping
5. Northern Uganda Chili Processing cluster.
- Fresh and dried chili
- Packaged chili powder.
6. Textile and Garments, Kampala.
- Textile Bags like for laptop, wallets,
- Bed Covers
- African wear like dresses
- Jewellery and necklaces.
7. Katwe Metal Fabrication Cluster, Kampala.
- Fabricated Energy stove with clay liners.
8. Buganda cultural tourism cluster central region.
- Cultural artifacts,
- Books about Buganda
- Videos and CDs about the history of Buganda.
9. Uganda Quality Basketry cluster, Luweero.
- Straw mats and hats.
Story by Betty Kyakuwa
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