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S$30 million allocated for technology to improve water treatment processes and operations in Singapore

Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, has launched three Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to invite industry technology providers and researchers to develop solutions that will improve the effectiveness of water treatment processes and operations, and ensure water sustainability.

The press release says that water demand is expected to double by 2060, with the non-domestic sector making up 70% of demand then. More energy-intensive sources such as NEWater (The NEWater process recycles treated used water into ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water. There are five NEWater plants supplying up to 40% of Singapore's current water needs.) and desalinated water will meet up to 85% of Singapore’s water needs then too. It is important to maximise water efficiency and lower energy use in water and used water treatment.

The first RFP targets specific technologies in enhancing energy efficiency of the water and used water treatment processes.

For water treatment, it aims to reduce the energy consumption of desalination and NEWater through biomimicry (the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems). This involves exploring water channels or transporters that use very low energy, such as aquaporins derived from specific species of microorganism, fish and mangrove plants, as well as synthetic channels, for incorporation into biomimetic membranes.

For used water treatment, the RFP targets to achieve energy self-sufficient water reclamation plants through Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactors incorporating the Anammox process (used for the removal of ammonium in wastewater treatment), and/or other innovative nutrients removal/recovery process. This aims to minimise the energy needed to treat used water and recover more energy from the process, such that used water treatment uses only as much energy as it generates.

The second RFP aims to enhance water efficiency in industries through water recycling or reducing water consumption. Proposals are to be submitted by the industrial or commercial host, in collaboration with an identified technology provider.

The third RFP looks at enhancing operational efficiency by leveraging on smart technologies such as robotics, drones, automation, data analytics and informatics, and video analytics, to minimise manpower required in operations and maintenance.

S$30mil has been allocated for the 3 RFPs. The RFPs are part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 Plan under the Competitive Research Programme (Water).

(Competitive Research Programme (CRP) Funding Scheme seeks to foster the formation of multi-disciplinary teams to conduct cutting-edge research that are of relevance to Singapore/society.)

In 2006, water was identified as a key growth industry, and funding of S$670 million from the NRF has been committed over 15 years (2006 – 2020) to foster leading-edge technologies and create a thriving and vibrant research community in Singapore.

Mr. Harry Seah, PUB’s Assistant Chief Executive (Future Systems and Technology), said, “Investing in R&D is important for PUB to develop innovative water solutions that can improve the efficiency of water treatment and keep our water supply sustainable. Through continuous R&D over the years, we have identified several promising technologies.  We want to work with technology providers and researchers to develop these technologies further and demonstrate their commercial viability.”

Companies that can bring the proposed water technology to market can submit their proposals.  Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) or Research Institutes (RIs) can also collaborate with an industrial partner for accelerated commercialisation/translation of the project and submit a joint proposal.

Companies interested in the RFPs can also find out more at an information session on 26 Jan 2018 at the Matrix @ Biopolis Auditorium. Interested applicants can submit their application via NRF’s Integrated Grants Management System (IGMS). Submissions close on 13 March 2018, 4pm (Singapore time, GMT +08:00).

Featured image: Savio Sebastian/ CC BY 2.0

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