Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Current Projects


The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Stellenbosch University consolidated their long-standing collaboration with the establishment of this strategic platform in 2020. The goal of the partnership is to develop sustainable solutions to promote water, energy and food security. An online kick-off meeting was held on 28 May 2020, with participants from Fraunhofer Alliances SysWasser and Energy, Headquarters, Stellenbosch University's Water Institute (SUWI) and Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), followed by a strategic online workshop on 9 July 2020. Two of the research projects supported by the platform includes the ICON water supply technologies for desalination and microbial control in food production for Africa (WASTEC) project, coordinated by Dr Marelize Botes; and MSc student, Ms Carli Louw as well as the DemoMed-Ver project to develop decentralised mobile care with autonomous test platforms formuse in developing countries led by Dr. Martin Hamann (FIP). 


The River Filter, located on the banks of the Eerste River in Stellenbosch, aims to remediate polluted river water for subsequent use in produce irrigation and to further our understanding of plant and microbial interaction in the uptake and removal of micropollutants. The project is a collaboration between Wildlands, Distell, and Stellenbosch Municipality, with funding from First Rand, Stellenbosch University Central Analytic Facility, and the National Research Foundation (NRF). 


This project involves the use of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) for the surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 infection in communities. This approach captures both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals and thus serves as an added surveillance resource to trace the spread of infection in a community. Weekly surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments at selected wastewater treatment

works (WWTWs) was performed in Cape Town/Stellenbosch, Lagos (Nigeria) and Bath/Bristol (United Kingdom) to track current infection hotspots and identify future outbreaks. In addition, routine weekly sampling in sewer lines originating from various locations such as student residences, centres, and office buildings at SU's Tygerberg Medical Campus, revealed positive signals at the onset of the second wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa, before any clinical identification of infection was recorded. The Stellenbosch University research team include Prof Gideon Wolfaardt (Microbiology), Prof Wolfgang Preiser (Virology/NHLS Tygerberg), Dr Edward Archer (Microbiology), Ms Noluxabiso Mangwana (Microbiology/SAMRC) and Mr Ludwig Brocker (Microbiology). 


The Sustainable Electrochemical Reduction of contaminants of emerging concern and Pathogens in wastewater treatment plants effluent for Irrigation of Crops project (SERPIC) will develop an integral technology, based on a multi-barrier approach, to treat the effluents of wastewater treatment plants to maximise the reduction of contaminants of emerging concern.​ 


Revenue diversification pathways in Africa through bio-based and circular agricultural innovations.
The DIVAGRI project proposes a wide range of bio-based innovative solutions adapted to specific conditions in target countries. Ecosystem restoration in combination with diverse crop production in regenerative agricultural systems, mobile biorefineries for biomass conversion to high-value compounds and bioenergy, and the highly innovative clay-based micro-irrigation system “SLECI" (Self-regulating, Low Energy, Claybased Irrigation) are solutions developed by DIVAGRI. In addition, building on community participation and co-development of collaborative business models, the project will enable smallholder farmers to increase income and generate new
economic opportunities while guaranteeing food security, real rural opportunities, and sustainability.

The focus of this project is not only on the primary production sector but also on the food and bio-based industries, thus promoting new partnerships between producers, processors, retailers and consumers and opening new sustainable avenues for businesses, services and value chains in support of rural communities.​ 

The ICU Microbiome Project: the ecology of AMR

Funding: Grand Challenges / Gates Foundation. SUWI is the project leader with collaborators from Canada and USA.

Key focus: To evaluate findings by studies showing that elimination of exposure to the Intensive Care Units in hospitals' water supply reduces rates of infection with pathogens. To trace the origin of these pathogens – whether from the bulk water or the hospital environment.