PUB launches open grant call to develop water technology

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, has launched an open request-for-proposal (RFP) to develop solutions in energy and waste reduction, decarbonisation and water quality. This grant call falls under the Competitive Funding for Water Research (CWR) initiative, which is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF). This RFP is open to Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), public sector entities and private sector entities based in Singapore or overseas. Overseas entities must be registered in Singapore to be eligible for funding. The deadline for submission of proposals is on 2 Feb 2024. An information session will be held on 9 Nov 2023 from 2pm-5pm at PUB WaterHub. Registration will close on 2 Nov 2023.

For this RFP, PUB is keen to advance new and existing ideas, as well as develop breakthrough technologies in four R&D areas: desalination, water reuse and used water treatment; waste reduction and resource recovery; decarbonisation and water quality and security. PUB R&D goals are aimed at reducing energy and chemical consumption, as well as waste production, while also increasing Singapore’s water resources and improving water quality. These efforts would also serve to moderate PUB operating costs in the long-term.

For desalination, water reuse and used water treatment, PUB aims to reduce the energy consumption at system level for seawater desalination and NEWater production. For used water treatment, it aims to attain energy self-sufficiency and develop an energy-positive water reclamation plant. To reduce sludge production in water and used water treatment, PUB aims to recover resources from seawater brine and other waste streams of the water loop, as well as reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. Resources, metals, or minerals that are recovered from seawater brine should be usable as chemicals in PUB water treatment plants.

For decarbonisation plans, PUB is looking for technologies that can be integrated with its operations to capture, remove and utilise carbon dioxide from the environment. Finally, PUB aims to maintain high water quality standards and more secure water resources through protection of source water, monitoring water quality in treatment, distribution and sewers, and management of contaminants of emerging concern.

There are two tracks under the RFP – the first solicits for novel ideas and technologies with focus on the abovementioned R&D areas, while the second focuses on translating and scaling up technologies with the end goal of commercialising or integrating the solutions with PUB’s operations. The maximum funding amounts are S$1.5m and $2m for the first and second tracks respectively.

PUB CTO Dr Pang Chee Meng said, “As we prepare for climate change and increasing water demand, PUB continues to press forward with our R&D efforts to maintain the sustainability of Singapore water system by leveraging water and digital technologies.”

Under the current RIE2025, PUB had previously launched three grant calls covering the recovery of chemicals and minerals from the water loop, the projection of climate change impacts on Singapore’s water system, and the use of technologies such as machine learning (ML), radar satellite and imagery for the collection of data to support PUB coastal protection efforts. A total of eight projects have been awarded. These include the recovery of lithium and mineral precipitates from seawater brine, the development of a ML-based model to predict changes on network water quality due to climate change, and the use of data-model integration techniques to improve capability in predicting drought events.

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