Image credits: NTU Singapore; Press Release

Image credits: NTU Singapore; Press Release

Singapore’s NTU, Surbana Jurong and NRF launch S$61 million joint corporate laboratory

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), Surbana Jurong and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) announced that they will be setting up a joint corporate laboratory to develop next-generation sustainable solutions to tackle industrial and complex urban challenges.It will include research to explore underground storage systems, sustainable indoor solutions for buildings, and digital technologies to scale up productivity in the built environment.

The S$61 million joint corporate lab is underlined by a five-year partnership.Located at NTU, the SJ-NTU Corporate Lab was officially launched by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance. The NRF facilitates the setting up of corporate labs via public-private partnerships. The SJ-NTU Corporate Lab is the 12th supported by NRF and the sixth such corporate lab at NTU.

NTU President Professor Subra Suresh said that the innovations developed at the SJ-NTU Corporate Lab will be tested on NTU’s Smart Campus, which is already pioneering the use of green construction technologies. The Smart Campus is also a testbed for innovations from autonomous electric vehicles to smart buildings and various applications of artificial intelligence.

The SJ-NTU Corporate Lab aims to develop innovative and sustainable solutions that will alleviate near-term urban challenges and improve lives for people around the world.This will be done by leveraging the company’s global industry experience in the urban and infrastructure sectors and NTU’s world-class research capabilities. The Lab will be working on projects which will help to further establish Singapore as a global hub for sustainable urban and infrastructure solutions.

NRF Chief Executive Officer Professor Low Teck Seng said the partnership between SJ and NTU will strengthen its ability to export next-generation smart and urban solutions to other cities facing similar challenges arising out of urbanisation. The key objectives of the SJ-NTU Corporate Lab will be to translate research outcomes into practical and viable solutions that are focused around three core themes:

i.                     digitalisation;

ii.                   green and sustainable urban solutions; and,

iii.                 the future of the industry and productivity.

To begin, researchers will be working on 11 projects that are aimed at optimising land usage, future-proofing buildings and infrastructure, and transforming the way buildings are designed and constructed.

For example, researchers will develop a thermal management system and an indoor air quality system that is not only energy efficient but also uses a botanical solution to purify the air. Integrating selected plants with architectural and interior design, indoor air pollutants would be reduced while creating a natural and lush indoor environment.

Another project involves a chilled ceiling technology that uses special composite materials for ceiling panels which are linked to a central monitoring system. The composite panels transfer heat more effectively than conventional aluminium panels.This reduces the need for air-conditioning and improves energy efficiency.

On the digital front, researchers will look into creating technologies to scan and map the external and internal parts of building structures such as piping networks. These will be used to create Building Information Models.The solution aims to improve the efficiency of facility managers and change the way buildings are managed and maintained.     

The multidisciplinary Lab will include NTU scientists from various fields and SJ professionals.In its fully operational state, the lab will have 70 researchers, including NTU undergraduates and PhD students.

For a start, researchers will explore underground storage spaces for storing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in industrial and urban areas so that space aboveground can be freed up for other uses.The storage of LNG within these spaces will be kept at below 162 degrees Celsius to ensure it remains in a liquefied state.

Asia’s first ‘Cold Lab’ will develop ‘Cold Energy Capture’.‘Cold Energy Storage’ technologies will also be set up.These technologies harness cold temperatures produced during regasification, a process where LNG is converted back to natural gas at atmospheric temperature.The harnessed cold energy could power various industrial applications such as cooling systems in warehouses and data centres.

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