Consortium formed to expand uses of membrane technology

SMEs roped in as Govt aims to spur research and push its adoption beyond water sector

State-of-the-art membrane technology has made sea water and used water fit for drinking in Singapore. But now the Government wants to push membranes even further.

They could purify food, for example.

Yesterday, the National Research Foundation (NRF) launched a national consortium to spur research and enable membrane technology to be adopted beyond the water sector.

The Singapore National Membrane Consortium (SG-MEM) will bring together research institutes from universities and polytechnics, government agencies and companies - including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - to come up with solutions for various sectors.

NRF director of programmes George Loh said: "The SG-MEM consortium provides the platform for SMEs, which are not in the water sector, to have access to membrane technologies for applications in diverse sectors, including food and beverage, fragrance and medtech. This will help our SMEs benefit from the latest technologies to grow their business."

The consortium will focus on five sectors: Energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, biomedical and water.

For instance, membrane technology could be used to concentrate and purify products in food and drinks, and create controlled drug delivery systems.

Companies which join the consortium will get to manufacture, assemble and test membranes at the facilities of research institutes here. SG-MEM will also organise workshops to give research institutes and industry representatives a chance to interact.

Fifteen companies, including Shell, Sembcorp and pump manufacturer Grundfos, have joined the consortium as founding members.

Companies which join the consortium will get to manufacture, assemble and test membranes at the facilities of research institutes here. SG-MEM will also organise workshops to give research institutes and industry representatives a chance to interact.

The consortium will be governed by a steering committee, which will be chaired by Dr Adil Dhalla, managing director of the Separation Technologies Applied Research and Translation (Start) centre at Nanyang Technological University. It will decide on the direction, strategy and workplan of the consortium.

A technical management committee will be chaired by Professor Gary Amy, coordinator of the Membrane Science and Technology Consortium (MSTC) at National University of Singapore.

Mr Andreas Kroell, chief executive officer and director of De.mem, a Singapore-based SME specialising in industrial waste-water treatment and a member of the consortium, said it is a "great asset" to have the ability to follow research, technology and innovation trends, and have strong support from the Singapore Government through the consortium.

"This is particularly important for a company like ours, which is growing quickly but still limited in terms of resources and manpower compared to larger MNCs," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2018, with the headline 'Consortium formed to expand uses of membrane technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe