STEP-Bio Grant Programme for MSc/MEng/MTech Students in South Africa

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Deadline: 9 November 2015

The public/private partnership between the Department of Science and Technology and the South African sugarcane milling industry is currently inviting applications for its SugarCane technology Enabling Programme for Bio-EnergY (STEP-Bio) Programme.

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The objectives of the Programme are:

  • Grow significantly the amount of sugarcane processing R&D being conducted in South Africa.
  • Ensure the sugarcane processing R&D conducted is coordinated and aligned with the South African sugarcane processing industry’s strategic objectives.
  • Create a sugarcane biorefinery research unit in KZN (in the region in which the biomass exists), including the necessary research infrastructure, high level human competence i.e. skilled and experienced researchers including appointing expertise at the Research Chair level.
  • Fund R&D projects and post-graduate bursaries aligned with the sugarcane processing industry’s strategic objectives.
  • Enhance R&D capacity and SET excellence.
  • Increase the number of scientists, engineers and technologists with sugarcane. biorefining competence available to join the sugarcane processing and allied industries.
  • Initiate and develop the technology required to establish a technologically advanced agro-processing sugarcane processing industry in South Africa.
  • Promote the development of a network of collaborators both locally and internationally.
  • Generate commercialisable Intellectual Property, and ultimately.
  • Increase the overall competitiveness of the South African sugarcane processing industry which will lead to more sugarcane being grown and the creation of more jobs.

Proposed Sub-projects

Grant funding proposals are invited for MSc, MEng or MTech projects to investigate one of the following sub-projects.

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  • Drying the bagasse to 20-35% moisture with minimum use of process energy sources.
  • Drying the bagasse to 20-25% moisture by a catalysed fermentation process.
  • Removing the sand/soil from the bagasse without using large quantities of water.
  • Reducing the bagasse particle size (sub 5 mm) and increasing its uniformity.
  • Separating the pith and fibre fractions prior to pelletising or briquetting to determine if this improves the effectiveness of these processes.
  • Methods for tracking the loss of fuel value.

Funding availability

The Total Fund of the Programme are R 120 000.

Eligibility Criteria

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  • The call is open to South African citizens and South African permanent residents.
  • To promote equity and redress, preference will be given to appropriately qualified applicants from designated groups, namely black, female and persons with disabilities, so long as such applicants meet the merit review and selection criteria.
  • All applicants must be registered or intending to register at a South African public university for full-time MSc/MEng/MTech studies in South Africa.
  • Preference will be given to proposals from higher education institutions regarded as emerging or previously disadvantaged, as long as proposals meet the merit review and selection criteria.
  • The SMRI and its members, the South African sugarcane processing industry, will have preferential access to any Intellectual Property emanating from the work.
  • Applicants may be required to supply additional supporting information and or to modify their proposals.
  • The approval and continuation of support of projects shall be at the discretion of the STEP Bio Programme Steering Committee, and the Steering Committee shall not be obliged to divulge or justify reasons for any decisions made in respect of project approval or support.
  • It is intended that the proposal submission should be made by the potential supervisor, with details of the potential student, where available. If no student has yet been identified, the awarding of the grant will be conditional on a student being recruited. Preference will be given to proposals where a student has already been identified and has committed to undertake the Masters project.

How to Apply

Applicants must fill the online Proposal available on the website and send it via email.

For more information, please visit STEP-Bio Programme.

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