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“I felt flabbergasted and extremely honoured for my work carried out in such a dynamic field like Chemical Engineering at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), could receive such international recognition, which echoes that dedication and hard works pays,” said an elated Emmanuel Kweinor Tetteh. 

The Doctoral student in Chemical Engineering, under the supervision of DUT’s Associate Professor Sudesh Rathilal, from Chemical Engineering, recently won the Best Paper award at the virtual Green Technology for Sustainable Development (GTSD-2021) international conference, held from 9 to 11 March 2021.

Sharing his thoughts on his experience, Tetteh said that it was quite challenging to present his entire work in a time limit of 12 minutes, when everyone present was aiming to showcase their institution and make an impression in the academic world. He was in the end thankful to God for receiving this award in recognition of DUT. 

The GTSD-2021 conference was organised by Dharmsinh Desai University (DDU), based in Gujarat, India under the guidance of Padmshri Dr H M Desai, Vice Chancellor of the university. The conference included thought-provoking presentations, dialogue, and debate among scholars, technological, and economic aspects in the field of green technology from countries such as USA, UK, Sweden, UAE, Portugal, Taiwan, Korea, India and South Africa. The selected papers will be published in the special issue of the following International Journals; Water Energy Nexus (Elsevier Journal) and Catalysis in Green Chemistry and Engineering (Begellhouse). 

Tetteh, who holds a BTech and MEng (Cum Laude) in Chemical Engineering, is currently pursuing his Doctoral studies with Green Engineering and Sustainability Research Group (GEASR) under the same department and supervision of Professor Sudesh Rathilal. 

Sharing his thoughts after receiving the news that he has won best paper, Tetteh said that with more than 300 participants and 13 sessions, his paper titled: Biogas production from wastewater treatment-evaluating anaerobic and biomagnetic systems, emerged as the Best Paper under Green Synthesis using Biotech and Bio-catalysis session. 

“Without a doubt, this award will inspire me to do more whenever I lose interest. I’m also grateful to my research group members and mentor, Prof Rathilal, for their continuous encouragement and support in inspiring me to become a great researcher,” he said. 

Giving his congratulatory message, Prof Rathilal said: “Congratulations to Emmanuel on yet another distinguished accolade. He has proven to be an exceptional researcher and is constantly pushing himself to greater heights in his own studies as well as mentoring his colleagues around him. Well done and all the best.” 

Tetteh has authored and co-authored outputs of journal papers (20), book chapters (3) and conference proceedings (25) in both local and international conferences. He is a member of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), Southern African Institution of Chemical Engineers (SAIChE IChemE) and Young Water Professionals (YWP). 

It is his first time participating in such a conference, however, he has bagged many local and international awards. Among the awards that he has won are the best paper award from the 2nd International conference on research advances in Engineering, Science and Management (Tech Insight 2019), held in Dubai, 2019 and the ENI Award for the Young Talent from Africa, in a ceremony held in Rome, Italy on October 2019 presented by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella. 

Delving more on the aim of his research, Tetteh said the research focus is aimed to develop an integrated anaerobic-photocatalytic-magnetic wastewater treatment system to improve water quality and methane yield from biogas. 

“This involves a series of treatment units designed to mitigate industrially generated pollutants to a desirable discharge limit. The operating conditions of the integrated system are being evaluated and subsequently optimised to understand their complexity and kinetic dynamics in assessing the potential of transforming CO2 rich biogas into value added products (methane), which can be used to offset the global energy demand,” he said. 

His advice to other students wishing to study in the same field as him is to never give up nor rest, unless they want to rust. 

“Students in this field should cultivate a passion for research, remain focused, and committed to technological development because energy and water are vital to all of us, and their long-term sustainability is reliant on us.  With this mentality, we can build the Africa and the world that we all want to see,” he said. 

Going forward, Tetteh relayed the recommendations his research offers, saying: “Biogas, a green and sustainable form of energy generated by the anaerobic degradation of organic waste, has both ecological and economic benefits when compared to a comprehensive fossil fuel-based energy system. Therefore, developing an integrated anaerobic photo-catalytic magnetized wastewater treatment system, simultaneously high organic pollutants can be degraded while CO2 produced from biogas is upgraded into methane. As a result, the prospects of commercializing this innovative technology are good.” 

Tetteh also indicated that his research can be used to improve the quality of municipal wastewater for reuse, with the added benefit of bioenergy recovery to offset the costs and energy demand of the country. 

Pictured: Doctoral student, Emmanuel Kweinor Tetteh bags an International  Best Paper Award  in recognition of DUT.

Waheeda Peters 

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