Consortium on membrane science and technology set up in Singapore

Consortium on membrane science and technology set up in Singapore

The National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) announced
recently that it will set up a national consortium on membrane science and
technology to promote research, collaboration, and commercialisation in
innovative membrane products and technologies.

The Singapore National Membrane Consortium (SG-MEM) aims to
bring together the membrane Research & Development (R&D) capabilities
of Singapore’s public-sector universities and innovation centres under one
umbrella to accelerate the translation of research in membrane technologies
into products and technologies that meet industry needs.

The centres involved include the Separation Technologies
Applied Research and Translation (START)
Centre, under Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s (NTU) innovation and enterprise
arm NTUitive; the National University of Singapore’s Membrane Science and
Technology Consortium (MSTC);
NTU’s Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC), which is part of
the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI); and Ngee Ann
Polytechnic’s Environmental and Water Technology Centre of Innovation (EWTCOI).

MSTC and SMTC will focus on basic and applied research,
while START and EWTCOI will support translational research.

SG-MEM will also work closely with Singapore-based
industries across the entire value chain, including start-ups, small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large local enterprises (LLEs), multi-national
companies (MNCs), as well as key Singapore government agencies, including SPRING Singapore, the
Economic Development Board (EDB), the
Energy Market Authority (EMA),
Singapore’s national water agency PUB, and the
National Environment Agency (NEA).

To date, a total of 15 SMEs, LLEs and MNCs have joined the
consortium as founding members: Shell, Sembcorp, Grundfos, Kurita-Singapore,
Aquaporin-Asia, Ceraflo, De.mem, Blue Ocean Memtech, Marmon Product Development
Center, Evoqua Water Technologies, SUEZ, Regentech, ECOSOFTT, UES Holdings, and
Tritech Group Ltd.

Companies working with SG-MEM are expected to benefit from
working with researchers in one or more of the following areas: a) Development
of novel membrane materials based on market needs, and the processes for their
fabrication; b) Design, assembly and testing of modules or elements; and c)
Membrane systems including processes, operation, integration and optimisation.

The member companies will have access to world class
research laboratories and facilities located at the research institutes to
manufacture, assemble and test membranes to bring R&D to market. SG-MEM
activities will also include technology workshops to facilitate interactions
between research institutes and industry representatives. SG-MEM will also
collaborate with the Membrane Society in
for wider outreach to the professional membrane community, and
network with other regional and global membrane centres.

The press release explains that Singapore has established
itself as a global water hub with significant capabilities in water
purification techniques using membrane technologies. Singapore’s institutes of
higher learning also have strong membrane expertise in the fields of gas
separation, energy applications, biomedical and biopharmaceutical technologies.
SG-MEM aims to promote and access membrane technology for focus areas beyond
water, such as energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and biomedical
applications and thereby build on Singapore’s proven success as a “Hydrohub”
and establish Singapore as a globally recognised “Membrane Hub”.

The platform will focus on five sectors with good commercialisation
opportunities: a) Gas separation and purification in the energy sector; b)
Concentration and purification of pharmaceutical ingredients in the
pharmaceuticals sector; c) Clarifying, concentration and purification of
products in the food and beverage sector; d) Controlled drug-delivery systems
in the biomedical sector; and e) Energy-efficient treatment processes in the
water sector.

A Steering Committee and a Technical Management Committee
will govern SG-MEM. The Steering Committee will take charge of the overall
direction, strategy and work plan of the consortium, and will be chaired by Dr
Adil Dhalla, Managing Director of START. The Technical Management Committee
will look into the technical aspects and performance of the consortium, and
will be chaired by Professor Gary Amy, Coordinator of the MSTC.

Mr George Loh, Director (Programmes) at NRF, said:
“Singapore has built a strong reputation as a leader in membrane technologies
for water treatment. Our universities, NUS and NTU, are ranked top in membrane
research, and they have developed advanced membrane technologies for water
companies. The SG-MEM Consortium provides the platform for SMEs, which are not
in the water sector, to have access to membrane technologies for applications
in diverse sectors including food and beverages, fragrance, and medtech. This
will help our SMEs benefit from the latest technologies to grow their