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PUB looks for innovative solutions to support water resilience and environmental sustainability

  • PUB looks for innovative solutions to support water resilience and environmental sustainability
  • Third edition of PUB’s Global Innovation Challenge launched – recovering phosphorus from used water treatment and utilising by-products from carbon capture among the challenge statements.

About the entity

PUB Singapore's National Water Agency
PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is the national water agency that manages Singapore’s water supply, water catchment and used water in an integrated way.

In capturing carbon dioxide from seawater to offset carbon emissions during desalination, how do we make optimal use of the sequestered carbon by-products? Is there an effective way to recover readily soluble phosphorus, used in hydroponics, from the used water treatment process? National Water Agency PUB’s Global Innovation Challenge (GIC) will seek the best ideas globally to address these key questions, as we ensure our operations remain resilient and sustainable.

Innovation and adopting new technologies have always been central to PUB as we advance water resilience and environmental sustainability. It is imperative that we continue to strengthen the resilience of our operations and seek more sustainable methods to produce water and reduce our carbon footprint. Following the success of the last two editions, PUB is bringing back the GIC and inviting water industry partners and innovators to co-develop solutions across four challenge statements. 

GIC 3: Anchored on sustainability & resilient operations

The third iteration of the GIobal Innovation Challenge will anchor on sustainability and smart solutions to enhance the resilience of PUB’s operations.

To advance our decarbonisation efforts, PUB is working with SeaChange, a technology start-up from the University of California, Los Angeles, to build a pilot system for carbon removal at our desalination plants. Another project with CO2Tech, the commercial arm of Australian decarbonisation research organisation CO2CRC, will explore capturing carbon dioxide via solvent absorption and membrane separation, and mineralise it with brine from our desalination plants3. If these carbon capture projects are successful, large quantities of carbon by-products will be produced. One of the GIC’s challenge statements aims to seek useful industrial applications for these by-products to ensure permanent carbon removal.

Phosphorous, a critical yet limited resource for modern agriculture, can be found in significant quantities in used water. As part of our ongoing efforts to improve resource circularity and reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill, PUB is sourcing for solutions to recover phosphorus from the waste streams of our water reclamation plants. Recovered phosphorous, free of contaminants, in soluble form can  be used forhydroponics cultivation and contribute to Singapore’s push towards food security.

Two other challenge statements are focused on developing smart solutions (Sewer Sampling Robot and Smart Drain Inspector) to enhance PUB’s operations. Smart robotic solutions will not only enhance our operational outcomes, but also improve manpower productivity and the safety of our workers.

Viable proposals shortlisted by PUB will receive pilot funding of up to $250,000 each. During the development process, organisations and individuals will gain access to real-world test beds in PUB’s facilities and get the opportunity to work alongside its in-house engineers and water experts, with the goal of achieving commercial implementation.

Said Dr Pang Chee Meng, PUB’s Chief Engineering and Technology Officer: “As a firm believer in innovation and technology, PUB has been investing in and supporting water-related research to develop innovative solutions to overcome our water challenges. To meet Singapore’s future water needs, while reducing its energy and waste footprint to mitigate climate change, PUB continues to source for new ideas to enhance water resilience and sustainability. The Global Innovation Challenge offers an exciting opportunity to companies around the world. We are hoping to leverage the best ideas& globally to discover and adopt promising technology to revolutionise our operations, as part of our ongoing transformation to become a smart and sustainable utility of the future.”

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