SA science boffin competes in Turkey international science fair
17 November 2022
A research project by a young scientist that aims to address South Africa’s need for more energy-efficient buildings and construction materials was showcased at this year’s Buca International Music, Science, Engineering Energy Fair (IMSEF) in Turkey.
Pieter Adrian Huysamen, a Grade 10 learner at Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town, was awarded a gold medal at last year’s Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF). He represented the country at the virtual IMSEF from 31 October to 5 November 2022.
Huysamen’s project, “A comparison between the influence of three different sizes of exfoliated vermiculite on the thermal and mechanical properties of cement construction bricks”, was selected for the IMSEF due to his extensive interest in improving the efficiency of building materials. He compared three grade sizes of exfoliated vermiculite (a mineral that undergoes significant expansion when heated) each to sand, to find an ideal ratio to make a lightweight brick that can be used in the construction industry.
The young scientist realised that environmental and economic constraints are increasing, and the construction industry will be affected, thus a need for more energy-efficient buildings and construction materials. Over the years, there has been an upward trend in the vermiculite global markets and such a project will be appropriate for the changing world.
Western Cape Minister of Education, David Maynier, congratulated Pieter and emphasised the importance of his research topic. “Our country is currently facing an energy crisis, and we need innovative thinking like Pieter’s to reduce our energy footprint, especially when we are focused on new infrastructure construction in the education sector and beyond. We are so proud to have the Western Cape represented in this area on the international stage!”
Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sumaya Nassiep, said: “As the funder of Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, it is impressive to see the standard of research our local young scientists are producing. This highlights the value that science and innovation can bring to solve some of society’s most pressing developmental challenges. We are truly proud to be part of cultivating the next wave of world leaders in scientific innovation.”
Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said: “Eskom is proud to be creating a pipeline for scientists and engineers for the country while they are still in school, by means of the Eskom Expo. Participating in a prestigious international science fair like the IMSEF is a great opportunity to connect with and learn from contemporaries who are the best young minds in the world. This is one of the reasons why Eskom Expo is such a key sustainability-driver for the organisation.”