PAMSA, which represents the majority of South African pulp and paper producers, focuses its research on biotechnology in the pulp, paper, tissue and paper packaging sectors. The programme requires that the applicants have a good academic record and show interest in areas such as bioresource engineering, separation technology, waste valorisation, water technology and novel materials using wood or paper fibre.
An example is the research of Stellenbosch University student, Qiniso Ngiba. Ngiba is exploring the use of pulp and paper mill waste liquor for the production of organic slow-release nitrogen fertiliser that would act as artificial humus for soil enrichment in agriculture.
Karina van der Merwe, a North-West University student, explains how her Masters’ project entailed making paper sludge-based biochar through hydrothermal liquefaction, an alternative to pyrolysis.
“While pyrolysis requires feedstock with a low moisture content, hydrothermal liquefaction welcomes feedstock with a high moisture content as water is one of the reagents needed for the reactions to occur. The biochar was then used as an adsorbent to clean industrial wastewater produced by a local paper mill as pollutants adhere to a surface of the biochar.”
“The science and chemistry behind wood, pulp and paper products, and its process waste, presents our industry and country with some unique opportunities for the circular economy,” says Jane Molony, PAMSA executive director. “By working with the South African universities, PAMSA has for the past decade been able to open bright young minds to the opportunities and kickstart successful careers at member companies’ mills.”
Applications must be done online by 22 June.