Dr Kapil MOOTHI (South Africa)

For his PhD work on the conversion of coal into carbon nanotubes (CNTs), Kapil was granted a provisional patent. Based on his research outcomes, products that enable the cleaning of wastewater using a carbon nanotube-infused polymer composite membrane as a filtration medium are under development.

PhD in Chemical Engineering

Current position: Associate Professor and Head of Department of Chemical Engineering at University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Research focus: nanotechnology, water treatment, carbon nanotubes, membranes, green chemistry and synthesis

Kapil hopes that his research in investigating the role of nanotechnology in environmental engineering for the treatment of water and wastewater will help in supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

2019 Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans
2015 Brightest Young Minds (BYM) Recipient
2011 Granted NRF In-Country Postgraduate Scholarship from DAAD

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2015):

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Research focus: direct conversion of coal into carbon nanotubes (CNTs) so as to bring the cost of CNTs down significantly allowing for their practical use in nanotechnology applications

With the results of his PhD, Kapil has contributed to the development of innovative technologies for economically viable nanotechnology applications in his country. Kapil is currently developing new products to improve sustainable water treatment in South Africa.

A major challenge in South Africa, that Kapil is aware of, is the one of dealing with Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). This problem can be found in many South African mines. The need to purify such polluted acid mine wastewater in an environmentally sustainable manner is a pressing one for the country. In addition, the protection of public health and the conservation of water resources are of paramount importance. The novel step provided by his research would be the introduction of a new nanotechnology to help tackle the issue of AMD. Kapil also aims to educate the public about the positive benefits nanotechnology could have on their lives.

After graduating with a BSc in Chemical Engineering (2007) from the University of the Witwatersrand, for his Masters’ degree in Chemical Engineering (2010) Kapil focussed on the production of CNTs from greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane). CNTs have come to be known as the wonder material of the 21st century with a wide range of applications. Kapil had also studied for six months for an international diploma in Brewing and Distilling (United Kingdom) during this period. Back in Johannesburg, he wrote his PhD thesis, the results of which contributed to the advancement of inventive technologies for economically feasible CNT synthesis. As his thesis work was very thorough and comprehensive, Kapil has been granted a provisional patent for his technology. Based on the research outcomes, a new product is currently being developed for pilot-scale testing. It is a module that enables the cleaning of wastewater using a CNT-infused polymer composite membrane as the filtration medium. The planned application would serve to mitigate environmental challenges; especially for the petrochemical, metallurgical and pharmaceutical industries, where large quantities of oil-containing wastewater are produced. Kapil has been awarded with national and international scholarships, prizes and awards for his academic record and research projects. He has also diligently published his research results in prestigious, international peer-reviewed journals.

The jury applauded Kapil’s track record of successful research and his combination of practical knowledge and innovative thinking in his current project(s). They believe that participation in the Green Talents Forum will give him fresh ideas, collaboration opportunities and new momentum for the research challenges ahead.