New lab for ‘Tuks’


KSB Pumps and Valves has assisted the University of Pretoria in the construction of a large controlled-temperature test unit, which will form the backbone of ongoing research into heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.

KSB 3Etanorm pumps form the backbone of the system.

The impressive unit will allow students to plug directly into hot, moderate or chilled liquids to use on research projects and will shave about 50% off students’ overall project build-up time therefore allowing more time to carry out actual research. In addition, it is expected to save considerable costs in future.

Chairman of the School of Engineering and Head of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Professor Josua Meyer, says the multi-million rand project was part-funded by the university, with donations from industrial companies like KSB Pumps and Valves for funding, equipment and construction of the system.

KSB 1On the right is Professor Josua Meyer, chairman of the School of Engineering and head
of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering of the University of Pretoria.

Critical studies

Regarding the centralised temperature-controlled unit, the professor explains that the system relies on temperature monitoring of flow loops where water is conditioned through the relevant heat pumps and chilling units at near boiling or lower temperatures, as well as sub-zero degree Glycol at -20˚C.

“The user demand within each loop is controlled using a system of pumps, variable speed drives, pressure transducers and special valves to allow up to eight experiments to plug-in simultaneously without affecting either the flow rate, working pressure or temperature of the unit. This calls for absolute reliability and requires the best possible equipment to be used to avoid downtime that may impede any of the research programs,” says Danie Gouws, technologist at the laboratory.

KSB 2Danie Gouws, technologist at the research laboratories of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering of the University of Pretoria.

“In the research laboratory reliability is of the utmost importance and means that the university will not compromise on quality and will procure the best, most suitable equipment that money can buy.”

Etanorm pumps

This meant that through its learned-team, the University specified five Etanorm 50/32/250 pump sets with 3kW, 2.2kW and 1.5kW motors respectively according to flow rates, required pressure and other requirements. With their proven reliability and unwavering performance, they were selected to accomplish the main pumping requirements of the complex system.

PLC-control ensure that all parameters are checked and balanced to ensure the system delivers fluid at the right temperature set points and flow conditions 24 hours a day, regardless of the number of students using the facility. It also ensures that ongoing and larger-scale research projects can be undertaken, including some cutting-edge research that is already being done in collaboration with other international universities.

These include valuable research concerning concentrated solar power (CSP) research, nuclear safety as well as micro and power-related electronics, heat exchange tubes and clean energy studies among others being carried out by 10 staff and 30 full time students including 10 PhD students, as well as a number of Master’s degree students.

Committed to education

KSB Pumps and Valves external sales representative, Dylan Mitchell, says the company was initially approached by Ascend Consulting Engineers to obtain data on the pumps. The company later revealed that a project was being undertaken for the university and that sponsorships were being sought.

KSB 4Intricate design ensures that researchers have the right temperature fluids at their disposal.

“In this regard we are always ready to assist educational institutions and give a thumbs up to the project. Wherever technical assistance was required we were happy to weigh-in with our expertise, but must commend the university, consulting engineers and the contractors who worked tirelessly to deliver a world-class installation.

“As a result, we are proud to be associated with this prestigious project which lends itself to assisting future engineers to change the face of tomorrow. This is another feather in the KSB cap.”

Switched on

With the system up and running, Professor Meyer concludes that the project is already proving to be a great success with numerous research projects already plugged in.

"We are thankful for the ongoing support of companies to the cause of our students and the university. Considering heat transfer is a fundamental subject for all under graduate engineering studies and that the University of Pretoria produces between a quarter and a third of the country’s engineers, we believe that this kind of support is essential and be viewed as a strategic investment in engineering for all of South Africa to reap the rewards.”