The Acting Executive Dean in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Professor Sudesh Rathilal and the DUT Master of Engineering Alumnus, Elorm Obotey Ezugbe recently won the 2022 Best Paper Award from the Switzerland based, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).
The award was in recognition of their publication entitled: “Membrane Technologies in Wastewater Treatment: A review.” According to Ezugbe, every year MDPI, a publisher of peer-reviewed, open access journals since its establishment in 1996, recognises and awards two outstanding articles, one research article and one review article.
Giving insight on the winning paper, Ezugbe said: “The paper basically discussed the different membrane processes that are employed in wastewater treatment, their advantages and limitations as well as ways in which the applications of these membrane processes can be improved. The paper gave detailed descriptions and practical examples of the application of these membrane processes in wastewater treatment.”
He said their paper was published in April 2020, when South Africa was on lockdown due to COVID-19. With how far this paper has gone, Ezugbe said it is obvious that good things can come out of bad situations.
Ezugbe spoke briefly about his relationship with Prof Rathilal, saying he was his supervisor during his Master’s studies between 2019 and 2021. He said the idea of writing this paper together came about when Prof Rathilal asked him to do some background reading towards his Master’s dissertation titled: Desalination of a Local Oil Refinery Effluent to meet discharge limits.
“The project was to remove dissolved salts from the effluent of a local waste oil refinery company in Durban before the effluent is discharged into the environment. When these dissolved salts find their way into the environment, they have detrimental effects on the environment (the soil and water bodies), hence the need for their removal before disposal. This required extensive theoretical research and reviewing of already available literature. After gathering enough information, we thought it was a good idea to share our findings with the world, and so we got it published,” explained Ezugbe.
He indicated that their paper was rated based on the number of citations, number of downloads, originality of work and number of reads. Per the criteria for assessment, Ezugbe revealed that the paper got the most citations (over 200), most downloads and most reads for the period under consideration.
In addition, Ezugbe stated that together with Prof Rathilal, they have written six papers and are also expecting to publish a book chapter soon. He said he is looking forward to future collaborations with Prof Rathilal as there is always room for more work together.
The elated Ezugbe said getting this international recognition is a great achievement for them and DUT at large.
“It pays to work hard. If hard work is adequately rewarded, there is no greater Joy. For DUT, this is a proof of excellence. A feat to be proud of, as it manifests the mission of the school – To serve the needs of developing societies within a dynamic global context and the enable quality teaching, learning, research and community engagement by providing quality, career-focused education; Promoting: A values-driven ethos; Sustainable partnerships with industry, community and society,” noted Ezugbe.
Explaining how this paper is going to benefit the community at large, Ezugbe said one of the major issues facing communities is the lack of potable water. On the contrary, he said wastewater is in abundance, being generated constantly. He further stated that efficient treatment of wastewater for reuse can help forestall issues of water scarcity.
“In this vein, membranes have an integral role to play as they provide many options for wastewater treatment. The paper threw light on all these options, giving practical examples of their application and benefits to communities worldwide,” he added.
Ultimately, Ezugbe said they are thankful to God for His mercies. He also acknowledged the support of, Mr Emmanuel K. Tetteh, Dr. Edward K. Amarh, Dr Dennis Amoah, Mr. Samuel Ofori Frimpong, Mr Dennis Asante-Sackey, Gloria Amo-Duodu, the entire Chemical Engineering Department, as well as FFS Refiners (Pty) Limited.
Pictured: Best Paper Award recipients, Prof Sudesh Rathilal and Elorm Ezugbe.