Bridging the water

Co create to learn & experience


Anammox Living Lab Durban

In 2019 the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology (IWWT) at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa and the Centre of Expertise Water Technology (CEW) in the Netherlands started collaborating to set up an Anammox Living Lab in Durban. At the beginning of 2020 two Dutch students, Niels and Redmer, flew over to South Africa to construct and startup an Anammox pilot installation and carry out laboratory experiments. Due to Covid activities had to be put on hold for a while as universities and laboratories were not accessible anymore. We continued to collaborate online. In the last few months experiments at NHL Stenden University of Technology in Emmen, the Netherlands started.

On the Dutch side, Susan Fokkert, graduating Life Science student got the task to build the Anammox setup.  Collaborating with on the South-African site Magray Owaes, PhD student at DUT. They were supervised by researchers from CEW (Karolina Smiech and Marco Verkaik) and DUT (Khalid Muzamil Ghani and Sheena Kumari).

Susan about the project: “The aim of this project was to achieve a stabilized setup of Anammox sequencing batch reactors (without partial nitritation) and to research the effect of sulfide addition on the Anammox performance.”

Research from Magray focus on: “the design, development and application of tools that can identify and help manage aquatic environments impacted by a range of existing and emerging contaminants. These contaminants have the potential to negatively impact human health and the ecological and chemical quality of aquatic environments.

The students learned a lot from this international collaboration. For example to be more pro-active when collaborating in research, working in a lab on a practical experiment and sharing expertise, how to combine information and communicate virtually.

“International collaboration allows researchers to obtain access to additional, often specialized expertise, obtain new perspectives on research, and form ties with others in the field, all of which can be beneficial to early-career researchers like me. This international collaboration helped to facilitate constructively challenging accepted viewpoints and ideas, which is crucial and also getting the  knowledge of what others are doing: in particular by simply talking with a fellow team member on the research project.” – Magrey 

We are pleased to announce that this part of the project has been completed with success. In June 2021 Susan will defend her BSc thesis written based on her Anammox experiments. In the meantime, Owaes is preparing to repeat and extend Susan’s successful experiments in his lab at DUT.

Bridging the Water is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme.