Different Masters and PhD programmes linked to biofuels are offered at Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town. These programmes are research-based with a selection of research topics available in the different Departments, for example:


MSc/PhD at the Department of Microbiology (Stellenbosch University)

Microbial development - Proff. WH van Zyl and M Bloom

    1. Genetic engineering of cellulose and raw-starch fermenting yeast
    2. Bioprospecting for new novel enzymes for lignocellulose hydrolysis


MScEng/PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Department of Process Engineering (Stellenbosch University)

Pre-treatment and fractionation of biomass / biological process development – Prof. JF Görgens

    1. Methods for lignocellulose pre-treatment/fractionation for local substrates and novel bio-energy crops for biofuels production
    2. Fermentation studies to evaluate the fermentability of pre-treated lignocellulosics to bio-ethanol Both industrial and genetically engineered yeast strains will be used in these studies

Pyrolysis & Gasification - Prof. JH Knoetze

    1. Evaluate and develop pyrolysis (fast, slow and vacuum) methods for the efficient conversion of biomass to biogas, bio-oils and solids (char)
    2. Thermo-gravimetric analysis of biomass to determine thermal degradation kinetics
    3. Equilibrium modelling to predict gasification behaviour for product-gas or syngas production from biomass
    4. Evaluation and upgrading of pyrolysis products

Process modeling – Proff. JH Knoetze, JF Görgens

    1. Based on data obtained from applying biochemical and thermo-chemical processes at lab-scale,  process modelling will be done to develop comparative mass&energy-balances for different technologies, and to design commercial factories
    2. Process modelling will be applied to maximise energy efficiency and economic returns of bio-energy production processes
    3. Mass&energy balances from process modelling will be used as a basis for Life Cycle Analysis, in collaboration with UCT


MSc(Eng)/PhD/Postdoc at the Department of Chemical Engineering (University of Cape Town)

Cost and Life-cycle analysis – A-Prof. H von Blottnitz

    1. Analysis of technologies in terms of environmental (energy balances and life-cycle) and economic (production costs) impact
    2. Provide critical information to determine commercial feasibility of 2nd generation technologies for lignocellulose conversion


These programmes are available to students with an appropriate 4-year bachelors or honours degree (for Masters study) or a Masters degree (for Doctoral study) in Engineering or Natural Sciences.  All post-graduate programmes are subject to selection and subject to meeting the selection criteria for the particular programme MTech  graduates could qualify for MSc/MScEng studies while DTech graduates may  be allowed to apply for PhD studies.



  1. Familiarize yourself with the research topics (see above) offered by the different departments. Contact the relevant supervisor to discuss possible research topics and to confirm that you meet the admission requirements for your intended study.
  2. Complete an application form and forward it together with a copy of your ID and academic record to Prof. M. Bloom (
  3. Only once you have been provisionally accepted by one of the Chair’s supervisors, submit an official application to the Registrar of the relevant University (Stellenbosch University Application Form and UCT Application Form) and specify the Department and Supervisor. 



The academic year runs from February to November, with the first semester being from February to June, and the second semester from July to November.  In most departments, postgraduate students can register either in the first or the second semester.

For enrolment in the first semester – 30 September of the preceding year
For enrolment in the second semester – 31 March of that year



Bursaries offered by DST are only available to full-time South African students in accordance with its policy of demographic representation.  The value of the bursaries in 2011 would be:

R80 000 per year for a maximum period of two years (Master’s degrees)
R100 000 per year for a maximum period of three years (Doctoral degrees)

From these bursaries, students should pay their tuition fees, books, accommodation, travel and all other living expenses. Continuation of the bursary (up to the maximum period specified above) is subject to the student’s satisfactory performance.

To apply for bursaries, please consult the relevant supervisor.



International students follow the same application procedure than South African students. Their academic qualifications will be evaluated by the university’s International Office, who will also help international students with general matters related to their study in South Africa. International applicants will be duly informed by an official letter and/or email of the outcome of their application, which can be used to apply for a study visum.

It is important to note that DST bursaries are not available to non-South African citizens.  The necessary funding for tuition fees and subsistence (living and accommodation expenses) must therefore be obtained from alternative sources.



Chair of Energy Research 2008-2011 Biofuels