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Preservation of Water Earns Mthembu a Doctorate Degree

Preservation of Water Earns Mthembu a Doctorate Degree

Tackling the issue waste-water treatment technologies is what prompted Dr Mathews Simon Mthembu to pursue and obtain his doctorate degree in Biotechnology at DUT.

His degree was conferred yesterday (19 April 2016) at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre, DUT Steve Biko Campus.

Having a passion in the field of biotechnology and always looking at solutions in preserving South Africa’s natural resources was the aim of his doctoral thesis titled: Removal of organic and inorganic nutrients in a constructed rhizofiltration system using macrophytes and microbial biofilms.

His thesis delved into the issue of the scarcity of water in South Africa and the need for an urgent development of more cost-effective and innovative waste-water treatment technologies to preserve this natural resource (water). Mthembu expressed great excitement upon receiving his doctorate degree and stressed his research was a long process which took him five years to complete.

“Constructed wetlands are both an inexpensive and a low-maintenance method for reducing pollution loading from urban runoff water prior to its entering watercourses,” he said. His study focused on utilising a constructed wetland for treatment of various types of waste-water to determine the effectiveness of the system and its components for nutrient removal from these waste-waters.

Dr Mthembu’s findings from his research have indicated that rhizofiltration technology (a form of phytoremediation that involves filtering water through a mass of roots to remove toxic substances or excess nutrients) can be used as a low-cost alternative technology for the treatment of waste-water, suited for peri-urban communities that are close to natural watercourses.

– Waheeda Peters

Pictured: Dr Mathews Simon Mthembu being hooded by Professor Thenjiwe Meyiwa, DUT Registrar, during his graduation. 

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