An experimental water purification plant being built in Singapore could not only reduce the presence of toxic waste in the water it treats by 90 percent, but could also be used to recover precious metals.
The plant uses a new kind of novel water treatment system that utilizes a new type of hollow-fiber membrane created by Professor Neal Chung at the National University of Singapore (NUS) which has been assigned to and scaled up for industrial application at Singapore’s Separation Technologies Applied Research and Translation (START) center.
START seeks to turn cutting-edge membrane research from Singapore’s universities into real products usable by multinational and local companies.
Typical hollow-fiber membranes resemble noodles with a hollow core and are similar in structure to straws. Chung’s new membranes, however, have three hollow cores. This allows for a water flow rate that is about 30 percent higher.
It is expected the filtration plant, which is being jointly built by the START center and Singapore based water technology firm Memsift Innovations, will be able to treat 5,000 liters of water a day. It is expected the plant could save the START center 1.6 million liters of water a year.
Managing Director of START Centre Dr Adil Minoo Dhalla said this is the first successful licensing agreement achieved by the national-level center since it started in 2016.
Dr J. Antony Prince, Founder of Memsift Innovations, stated that he believes the new tri-bore hollow-fibre membrane will improve the efficiency of their patent-pending thermal separation process as well, which provides unique benefits over traditional brine treatment and zero-liquid discharge solutions.
“Our filtration process operates at relatively low pressures and temperatures as compared to the conventional thermal-based separation processes. It saves energy, reduces operational cost, recovers precious metal and resources, while helping to save the environment,” he stated.
The plant is expected to be commissioned by the second quarter of 2019.