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The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University took renewed steps toward the advancement of rubber-related research and development by launching the Centre for Rubber Science and Technology at its South Campus yesterday.

According to Dr Percy Hlangothi, Director of the Centre: “Nelson Mandela Bay is home to the motor and tyre industry making the establishment of this Centre a testimony to NMMU’s commitment to remaining relevant to the region’s needs.”

Drawing on NMMU’s historic experience in rubber science and technology, the Centre will focus on providing analytical and technical services as well as training for the needs of rubber and tyre manufacturing industries within South Africa.

“The Centre will not only house research projects that are relevant to the industry and community needs but will also offer learning programs (short and long) and support services to benefit the industry”, Dr. Hlangothi added.

The Centre’s rubber-related research and development programs will cross various disciplines such as chemistry, environmental science, computer science, engineering and economics.

“The launch of the Centre has been spurred by our research on tyre recycling sponsored by REDISA (Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa), but goes beyond those projects and looks at the industry as a whole,” said Ms Jaci Barnett, Director of NMMU’s Innovation Office.  

NMMU has long been active as a training institution in this field, providing education at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. To date, over 50 masters and doctoral students have graduated from NMMU, having completed their research projects in the Physical and Polymer Chemistry Research Group. Many of these graduates are employed in the local tyre and rubber industry with a number having gone on to establish rubber-related companies.

*Photographed above are from left to right: Dr Percy Hlangothi (Director of the Centre, NMMU), Dr Chris Crozier (REDISA), Prof Chris Woolard (Research Associate, NMMU), Prof Andrew Leitch (Deputy Vice Chancellor, NMMU)