NMMU/eNtsa’s Friction Processing Technique entering the global engineering arena


South Africa’s power generation and petro-chemical industries are expected to reap huge benefits after the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in August approved a new locally-produced, ground-breaking welding technique - the Friction Taper Hydro-Pillar welding and repair process.

This approval, by one of the world's leading engineering bodies, follows over a decade of research into this technique by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) engineering innovation unit, eNtsa.

The accreditation means that the Friction Taper Hydro-Pillar welding and repair process is now available for use on plants and equipment designed according to ASME specifications. Since this new process allows engineers to make informed decisions on the material state within a very short time frame, and assists with the extension of the life of high-value engineering components – local companies will now save millions of Rands.

The approval is also the first code case accepted by an international body from a South African university.

The technique will undergo evaluation for the next three years to determine whether the process will be adopted as a new solid-state welding process in ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) – Section IX.

In 2011, Eskom began conducting pilot studies, prior to ASME approval, using the new WeldCore® technique on Turbine-rotor discs and steam inlet transition pieces. The power utility has already saved billions of rand in deferred expenditure since the WeldCore® process offers reliable feedback on its aging power stations.

A further R32 million investment from Eskom, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) and the Department of Science and Technology’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) over 12 years, has been awarded to eNtsa to support contract research and commercialisation.

Apart from their ground breaking achievements, eNtsa has completed over 400 projects and assisted over 120 different SMEs in the past year.

To find out more about NMMU & eNtsa, visit www.nmmu.ac.za/eNtsa.