PUB launches global search in its third Global Innovation Challenge

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency’s Global Innovation Challenge (GIC) is seeking the best ideas globally to address recovery of phosphorus from used water treatment and by-products utilisation from carbon capture to ensure operations remain resilient and sustainable.

An online information session for the third edition of the GIC will be held on 18 Jan 2023 (Image: PUB)

Viable proposals shortlisted by PUB will receive pilot funding of up to S$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 specialists, with the goal of achieving commercial implementation.

GIC invites water industry partners and innovators to co-develop solutions regarding the optimal use of sequestered carbon by-products in capturing carbon dioxide from seawater to off-set carbon emissions during desalination and the effective way to recover readily soluble phosphorus, used in hydroponics, from the used water treatment process.

PUB is currently working with CO2Tech, the commercial arm of Australian decarbonisation research organisation CO2CRC, to capture carbon dioxide via solvent absorption and membrane separation and mineralise it with brine from PUB’s desalination plants. If these carbon capture projects are successful, large quantities of carbon by-products will be produced. One of 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 its 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 for hydroponics 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 enhance operational outcomes, improve manpower productivity, and ensure workers’ safety.

PUB’s chief engineering and technology officer, Dr Pang Chee Meng said: “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 GIC 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.”