The South African Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has hailed the new Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility (NIDF) which is a joint project between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and her Department of Science and Technology (DST). The minister said this while delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the NIDF at the CSIR in Pretoria on Thursday the 3rd of December 2015.
According to the minister, “The Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility is an important milestone in a long innovation journey,” she said. “As we look forward to the impact that the Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility is likely to have on economic growth, our department will continue to promote public and private sector investment in research and development.”
“The [NIDF] will provide the capabilities for the industrial-scale production of nanostructures and nano-applications required for industrial testing,” she pointed out. “It provides a unique technology and product development capability for South Africa with respect to nanostructures. It is the culmination of a long-term investment in research and development in nanotechnology as an emerging research area,” the Minister explained.
CSIR Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi says the CSIR performs research to stimulate and improve the competitiveness of industry, and thereby contribute to the economy of the country.
“We need to think differently. We need to explore new ways and mechanisms to enter areas of activities such as the beneficiation of our natural resources to create jobs, manufacture high-end components and export them,” says Sibisi.
Dr Manfred Scriba, programme technologist has explained that. “This facility will allow us to compete internationally in the production of nanoclays, which are nanoparticles of layered mineral silicates, opening up possibilities for a broad range of new products and applications. The programme will facilitate optimisation and scale-up of local industrial processes that employ synthetic nanoclays, potentially reducing the cost of production and improving quality,”
According to statistics, the international market in nano-structured materials and nanocomposites is growing rapidly. Nanoclay composites for instance are expected to increase from a 2011 volume of 24, to 74 million metric tonnes and a global value of $3 billion by 2016. In South Africa, the total plastic consumption is in the order of 1.3 million metric tonnes or R35 billion per annum, and accounts for an estimated 3.2% of the manufacturing sector.