Mechanical Engineering

Research groups


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Aeronautics Research | Bioengineering | Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit (BISRU) | Energy Research Centre (ERC) | Centre for Materials Engineering (CME) | Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics (CERECAM) | Low Cost Automation and Robotics (LCAR)| Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) | Sasol Advanced Fuels Laboratory | Engineering Management (SEM)

We have a number of world-class research groups led by a dynamic professional staff of experienced academics and practitioners, many of whom are recognised as world leaders in their fields. The following is a list some of the larger groups together with a brief description of their focus areas. Where the group has a website, there will be a link to that site for more detailed information on their activities.

AERONAUTICS RESEARCH

The Aeronautical Research group possesses substantial experience in flight vehicle simulation and design, specifically related to flight mechanics and applied aerodynamics. Its main strengths are in aerodynamics, flight dynamics, modelling and field-testing.

A major focus within the group is the flight modelling and testing of parafoils and to this end the group has also developed a novel mobile parafoil launching system which will be used to conduct flight tests.

Research also focuses on the theoretical minimization of the hinge moment on ailerons, which would permit smaller hydraulic jacks to be used on aircraft and result in a reduction of fairing size and aerodynamic drag

In collaboration with Airbus, the formation flight of commercial aircraft is being studied as a potential method for lowering emissions and reducing costs in the aviation industry.

Current Research Focus

Key Research Collaborators

Sponsors

Specialised Facilities

Contact

Christiaan.Redelinghuys@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 3232

Website: Areonautical Research Group

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BIOENGINEERING

Medical expertise combined with mechanical engineering skills has created our research and application work in Bioengineering. The human skeleton and soft tissue provide the foundation to our designing and developing a large number of implants for patients suffering from bone cancer or bone tumours. Our research focus is on implants for limb-salvage surgery and recently on implants that require complex surface development using multiple software design packages. These complex implants are used in replacement surgery for the scapula, the pelvis, the trapezium and the talus or any other bone with a complicated surface structure. The implants are designed for anatomical reconstruction of the skeleton, which in most cases, offers not only a better solution for the smooth transmission of forces, but also helps the patient from an aesthetic perspective. Modular implant systems designed by this group for both upper and lower limbs have been used in surgical operations at hospitals in South Africa and India.

Research currently focuses on improving the manufacturing processes for the implants and identifying new technologies, new choices of materials, treatment of articulating surfaces, as well as osseo-integration between skeletal tissue and implant. This has brought collaboration in research and development with academic institutions in South Africa and in India.

Current Research Focus

Key Research Collaborators

Sponsors

Awards

Contact

George Vicatos@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 2492

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BLAST IMPACT AND SURVIVABILITY RESEARCH UNIT (BISRU)

BISRU focuses on the fundamental understanding of blast and structural impact scenarios using experimental and computational techniques. BISRU currently operates a unique suite of blast impact assessment equipment located at its own test facility. Its research activities are aimed at promoting the investigation and understanding of impact dynamics through both theoretical numerical simulation and laboratory based studies. As its main objective, research in BISRU is aimed at developing techniques to reduce the risk of injury and save lives, in addition to understanding the mechanics and dynamics of blast and impact loads. BISRU is involved in several multi year programmes to study the loading and damage caused by explosions, develop blast resistant lightweight materials or structures and to study impact phenomena. Research in our facility also seeks to understand the properties of homogeneous materials as well as cellular and multi layered materials under blast impact conditions.

Current Research Focus

Key Research Collaborators

Sponsors and Industrial Partners

Specialised Facilities

Contact

Gerald.Nurick@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 3234

Website: BISRU

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ENERGY RESEARCH CENTRE (ERC)

The Energy Research Centre adopts a multidisciplinary approach towards energy research, with a specific focus on technology, policy and sustainable development.

Its core research focuses on energy and developmental needs, energy efficiency, modelling of energy systems and climate change mitigation. The research aims to provide robust evidence to address key energy challenges and to help decision makers find solutions to critical energy issues.

The Energy Research Centre is also involved in various initiatives to improve knowledge dissemination, support sustainable development and to spread its research knowledge at both the academic and community level.

Current Research Focus

Key Research Collaborators

Sponsors

Awards

Specialised Facilities

Contact

erc@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 3230

Website: ERC

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Centre for Materials Engineering (CME)

The Centre for Materials Engineering engages in research that is designed to grow both the fundamental and practical knowledge of engineering materials. Although our research thrust focuses mainly on metal alloy development, we provide education and training relating to the physical, chemical, electrical, mechanical and processing properties of all engineering materials including polymers, ceramics and composites. Our extensive modern laboratory facilities enable advanced characterisation and mechanical property measurement, including fatigue and fracture assessment, of a broad range of engineering materials and we are able to support local industrial development by providing assistance with selection of materials and optimisation of properties to suit process and service requirements.

The strong academic and technical expertise in the Centre underpins a thriving postgraduate activity that promotes human resource development for local industry and also fosters the growth of future researchers. Our particular focus on the deformation processing of metal alloys assists in improving the competitiveness of local metals producing industries and prepares graduates for employment in this important South African manufacturing sector.

Current Research Focus

Key research collaborators

Sponsors

Awards

Specialised Facilities

Contact

Robert.Knutsen@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 3172

Website: Centre for Materials Engineering

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Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics (CERECAM)

The principal objective of CERECAM is to provide a coherent focus and point of interaction for research in the area of non-linear mechanics, by promoting and supporting fundamental research and applied research. A major area of interest is in computational mechanics i.e. the computational simulation of flow, deformation and failure in natural processes, engineering components or artifacts. Other research interests focus on theoretical studies in solid and fluid mechanics, partial differential equations, computational algorithms and experimental studies. CERECAM has as a key objective to be the centre of expertise in SA in its area of research, to provide a link between industry and academia, and to provide postgraduate training in such a form that its graduates make a real contribution to SA industry.

Current Research Focus areas

Research Collaborators

Sponsors

Specialised Facilities

Contact

Daya.Reddy@uct.ac.za

Tel: +27 21 650 3817

Website: CERECAM

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Low Cost Automation and Robotics (LCAR)

The Low Cost Automation and Robotics group was born out of collaboration between mechanical, electro-mechanical and electrical engineers to produce low cost systems for the automation of manufacturing and assembly lines with a focus on increasing production and reducing costs for industry. The emphasis of the research work being done is to use simple robotic techniques in the solution of complex problems.

Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

We specialise in optical interference techniques including Holographic Interferometry, Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry and Digital Shearography.

Sasol Advanced Fuels Laboratory

The Sasol Advanced Fuels laboratory was set up in 2002 as a joint collaboration between Sasol and the University of Cape Town. The objective was to promote synthetic-fuel applications research with a future focus and to build capacity for Sasol's future growth. The research is focused primarily on combustion in engines, ranging from the study of current synthetic fuels in current engines to future fuels and future engine concepts. The Laboratory is staffed by Sasol personnel who have been transferred to the University where they hold an honorary academic teaching status and lead the various postgraduate study activities. The laboratory team currently comprises ten full-time MSc students and four PhD students.

The Sasol Advanced Fuels Laboratory comprises four test-cells that have been built and equipped for conducting research on a) single-cylinder research engines with optical access, b) standard passenger-car gasoline or diesel engines, c) heavy duty engines up to a maximum power rating of 400kW. The test-cells are comprehensively equipped with world-class instrumentation including sophisticated exhaust-gas analysers, data acquisition and control systems. There is also an assortment of specialised equipment for conducting various combustion studies, some of which was designed and built by the post-graduate students.

Engineering Management (SEM)

Entrepreneurship has become a key competency in both corporate and new business environments. Good project management can significantly enhance the viability of an entrepreneurial venture. The goal is to provide a platform for them to develop a range of general organisational, managerial and entrepreneurial competencies. This is achieved through the development of generic frameworks which are moulded and tailored to the needs of individuals through application.

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Reference Guide to Research and Development in the Department of Mechanical Engineering