Conceptual image of the facility (Source : waste-management-world.com)

S$40m waste-to-energy facility to be built by NEA and NTU in Tuas by 2017

National Environment Energy (NEA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has signed an agreement on July 13 for the collaboration of the development of the waste-to-energy facility in Tuas worth S$40m at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore located at Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina By Sands.

The construction will begin early next year and it is targeted to be operated in the year of 2018.

Mr Ronnie Tay, CEO of NEA, and Professor Ng Wun Jern, Executive Director of NTU's Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI) signed the agreement. The signing was witnessed by  Mr Choi Shing Kwok, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and Professor Freddy Boey, Provost of NTU.

Mr Ronnie Tay said, “This collaboration with NTU underscores NEA’s commitment towards Singapore’s vision of becoming a zero waste nation. 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.”

While Prof Freddy Boey said, “NTU has an established track record of industry collaboration and for translating research into impactful commercial applications. NTU’s research in water covers the whole cycle of water. Through this joint research facility with NEA, we aim to build a centre of excellence and a hub in waste management research. 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. Such innovations will help overcome energy and space constraints faced by Singapore and other urban cities. NTU looks forward to collaborating with the industry in these efforts.”

There are two main technologies to be tested in the facility. The first one is to turn ash into slag, which is a glass-like by-product that could be used in construction. The second is to turn waste and biomass into synthetic gas, which will be used to generate electricity.

Executive Director at NTU's Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute Ng Wun Jern said this facility will help turn research findings into industry applications, "You must understand that what you do in the lab is research, and research is still a long way from actual application. At the end of the day, we need to move research to engineering. So what this facility allows us to do is to address the engineering issues."

A laboratory will be provided in the facility in order to provide the researchers to test projects with the aim of commercializing them and to train manpower with technical skills in the waste-to-energy field. The goal is to train 12 to 20 post-graduate students of civil engineering and have 6 projects a year.

Professor Ng Wun Jern, executive director of NTU’s Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute, said: ”We want to use NTU campus as a source of feed. So we are going to be testing the garbage from campus to the facility... (and) treating about 15 to 20 tonnes of garbage a day.” This action will include food waste and daily domestic waste from the campus, and the energy generated will go back to feeding the plant.

He added: “The objective of collecting the garbage is because we need something to feed the facility. And once the facility is up and running, it becomes a platform for various technology partners to come on board to work with us, to develop new technologies... to test technologies to prepare this for the market.”

Mr Choi Shing Kwok, said: “As a nation with very limited land resource and a highly urbanised and densely populated setting, we have to manage our waste sustainably and efficiently. This means that sending our waste to the landfill should be the last option.”

NEA showed the statistics from last year, showing that 21,023 tonnes of waste were generated daily in Singapore. 38 per cent of that ( 7,886 tonnes daily) was incinerated, while 2 per cent (516 tonnes daily) of non-incinerable waste was disposed of at Semakau Landfill. The overall recycling rating was 61 per cent (12,739 tonnes daily). This includes 118 tonnes of metal recovered daily from incineration ash.