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$40m Waste to Energy Research Collaboration in Singapore

Singapore’s National Environment Agency has joined forces in a Collaboration Agreement with the NTU Singapore to develop a S$40 million waste to energy research facility.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has joined forces in a Collaboration Agreement with the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) to develop a S$40 million ($30 million) waste to energy research facility.

According to the NEA the facility will be the first of its kind in Singapore and is planned to enable the translation of emerging waste to energy technologies, such as the use of syngas in demonstration and test-bedding projects.

Possible projects to be conducted at the facility include turning waste and biomass into synthetic gas, cleaning and upgrading syngas to run an gas engine or turbine for higher energy recovery efficiencies, the utilisation of slag in engineering applications, novel flue gas treatment module for lower emissions, low-grade heat recovery and using a gas separation membrane to extract oxygen from air.

History of Collaboration
The collaboration agreement was signed by Ronnie Tay, CEO of NEA, and Professor Ng Wun Jern, executive director of NTU’s Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI).

“NTU has an established track record of industry collaboration and for translating research into impactful commercial applications,” commented Prof Freddy Boey.

“It will provide local institutions and industries access to the world-class research facilities and expertise at NTU, helping them to innovate and develop clean solutions that are globally competitive,” the professor continued.

Expected to be commissioned by late 2018, it is hoped that the facility will be an open platform to support research and its translation, as well as personnel training to build technical competencies in waste to energy.

Ronnie Tay added: “We hope that this facility will provide stakeholders such as research institutes, academia and industry with a platform to collaborate in and create more effective and sustainable waste management solutions through research, development, demonstration and test-bedding.”

Singapore co-digests 40 tph food waste with sludge to yield more biogas

Singapore water utility PUB has started the nation’s first project to produce biogas through co-digesting used water sludge and food waste.

In this project, used water sludge from the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) will be mixed with food waste collected from the Clementi district and treated in a co-digestion demonstration facility.

Due to the “higher calorific value in food waste”, this new combined treatment of used water sludge and food waste has the potential to produce more biogas, PUB said in a statement.

The co-digestion plant can treat up to 40 tons of combined food waste and used water sludge. It will adopt the OmnivoreTM process patented by energy company Anaergia, which makes use of anaerobic digestion, a biological process that breaks down organic materials without requiring oxygen to produce biogas.

As part of the project, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be conducting a district level pilot in Clementi for the collection of source-segregated food waste from various premises – such as educational institutions, hospitals and camps – for co-digestion at the demonstration plant. The demonstration plant is currently under construction and will be completed by September 2015.

If successful, the process could potentially be implemented at the future Tuas Water Reclamation Plant and NEA’s Integrated Waste Management Facility.

This collaboration is a result of an MOU signed during the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) in 2014, in which both Anaergia and PUB agreed to explore potential research and technological collaboration, particularly in the domain of waste to energy.

Harry Seah, chief technology Officer, PUB, said: “This demonstration plant aims to validate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of co-digestion implementation in Singapore. It will provide the opportunity for the water reclamation plants to generate more electricity for process usage. This could potentially allow the used water treatment plant to achieve energy self-sufficiency, which is using only as much energy as the treatment process itself generates.”

Andrew Benedek, Anaergia’s chairman and chief executive Officer, said: “There is no better place than Singapore nor a better utility than PUB to work together with to demonstrate Anaergia’s ground-breaking technologies designed to make water reclamation plants energy neutral.”

This project was supported with a co-funding grant from the Technology Pioneer Scheme, administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board on behalf of the Environment and Water Industry Programme Office.

World’s first electric taxi for the tropics unveiled

Say hello to EVA, the first car to be designed and made in Singapore and the world’s first electric taxi for tropical megacities. The quick-charging, long-range car features innovations that could drive sustainable changes in public transport in cities.

Researchers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Germany’s Technische Universität München (TUM) on 24 April unveiled an electric taxi that is the first car to be designed, developed, and made in Singapore.

Also the world’s first electric taxi for tropical megacities, EVA, boasts features such as a lightweight carbon-fibre body, an energy efficient air conditioning system, seats that suck away moisture and heat, and a fast-charging battery system that will allow the car to travel up to 200 kilometres on just a 15-minute recharge, among others.

EVA was developed by TUM CREATE, a partnership between NTU and TUM to study electric mobility. It was unveiled by German Ambassador Michael Witter, along with NTU president Bertil Andersson and TUM vice president for research and innovation Thomas Hofmann.

Prof Bertil Andersson, NTU President & His Excellency, Dr Michael Witter, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, viewing EVA’s state-of-the-art battery system. Image: NTU Singapore

Prof Bertil Andersson, NTU President & His Excellency, Dr Michael Witter, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, viewing EVA’s state-of-the-art battery system. Image: NTU Singapore

The researchers behind EVA said they focused on building a sustainable taxi because although cabs make up only three per cent of Singapore’s vehicle population, they account for 15 per cent of the total distance travelled by all vehicles on the island.

An electric taxi in hot and humid Singapore would need a short charging time, long range, and a comfortable environment for passengers, noted the researchers, adding that the technologies showcased in EVA “can be adopted in both current and future vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint”.

For example, the car’s overhead air conditioning system delivers cold air to a passenger’s upper body, which keeps them comfortable without needing to cool down the entire cabin. Vents in unoccupied zones of the vehicle can also be switched off to conserve energy.

Individualised overhead cooling vents in EVA. Image: NTU Singapore

Individualised overhead cooling vents in EVA. Image: NTU Singapore

Markus Lienkamp, scientific advisor director at TUM CREATE shared that the idea for the project came four years ago when researchers questioned whether electric vehicles were suitable for public transport systems in megacities. A team of 40 researchers, mostly PhD students from about 20 nationalities, built the car over two years.

The university has identified electric mobility as one of the solutions necessary to tackle climate change, noted NTU president Andersson, adding that “our success in building an electric car for the tropics is a big step forward in realising our vision for a more sustainable future for everyone”.

Andersson also pointed out that the car was the first ever to be designed and made in Singapore, and said that although automotive manufacturing is not a core economic activity in Singapore, “the nation’s economy will definitely benefit in the long run through technology transfer”.

“We are now among the leaders in electro-mobility systems and will be able to offer our knowledge and services to the automotive industries in this region,” he added.

TUM CREATE chief executive Maria-Elisabeth Michel-Beyerle also noted that the technologies developed for use in EVA had caught the attention of the automotive industry worldwide and already clinched a technology award in Munich, Germany.

“We are also now in discussions with some companies who are interested to commercialise our innovation,” she shared.

Along with the car’s sustainability features, EVA is also fitted with other amenities essential for a taxi. These include a large storage space for luggage, an fold-out child seat, and an infotainment system which allows passengers to control air conditioning and audio settings from their mobile devices.

EVA has a built-in infotainment system which can display fares, navigate with maps and play music from the radio. Image: NTU Singapore

EVA has a built-in infotainment system which can display fares, navigate with maps and play music from the radio. Image: NTU Singapore

Despite being feature-heavy, EVA is actually 150 kilogrammes lighter than other similar-sized taxis, said NTU.

Lienkamp added that the successful design of a vehicle specially for public transport “has opened up new questions for us to explore, mainly how purpose-built electric vehicles would fit into the whole transport eco-system together with the trains and buses”.

To begin with, TUM CREATE will test the car further on the NTU campus, which is already a test-bed for other prototype electric and autonomous vehicles.

The university aims over the next four years to become a national test-bed for smart mobility solutions such as technology that enables cars to ‘talk’ to traffic infrastructure and other cars.