'Game-changer' in local waste management scene

Research fellow Yu Yi Fu (far left), 30, shows a sample of CFA, a product that could make industrial waste management cheaper and more eco-friendly. With him are (from left) EcoWorth Tech programme manager Kim Wimbush, chief operating officer Andre S
Research fellow Yu Yi Fu (far left), 30, shows a sample of CFA, a product that could make industrial waste management cheaper and more eco-friendly. With him are (from left) EcoWorth Tech programme manager Kim Wimbush, chief operating officer Andre Stolz and CEO Bert Grobben.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Start-up's filter created from waste biomass can cut cost of managing liquid industrial waste

A Singapore start-up, EcoWorth Tech, has developed a new technology that uses waste biomass, such as cotton wool and paper, to make filters to clean up liquid industrial waste.

The technology, named Carbon Fibre Aerogel (CFA), cleans the waste liquid to levels that allow it to be discharged into drains.

Dr Bert Grobben, chief executive of EcoWorth Tech, said the technology is set to be a game-changer in the Singapore waste management scene, by cutting the cost of managing waste in a sustainable, environment-friendly way.

He added that due to the technology's eco-friendly production process and durability of the CFA material, these filters will make cleaning liquid industrial waste cheaper for industrial plants.

He did not disclose the extent of savings that could be achieved, saying that it varied from client to client. But he said the use of CFA could be up to 20 times cheaper than other low-cost solutions in use today.

The filters are created by burning waste cotton in a special oven at high temperatures in controlled conditions, and then cooling it.

MAKING A MARK

This technology will put Singapore on the global map, as it is a technology that can be used anywhere in the world.

DR BERT GROBBEN, EcoWorth Tech CEO, on the Carbon Fibre Aerogel technology.

The size of these filters is customisable, and they can be used in a range of industries, from industrial wastewater treatment to food waste management to the oil and gas industry.

"We don't put any harsh chemicals in. We use natural materials, and there is no environmental impact in the entire production process," said Dr Grobben.

He said that 1g of CFA absorbs about 190g of fuel, oil or grease.

He added that CFA filters, unlike others, can be reused, as waste material can be squeezed out of them.

He said EcoWorth Tech plans to scale up its operations to produce the CFA filters quickly to meet the high demand for waste purification technology in Singapore.

The initial production facility will be based in the Nanyang Technological University, and Dr Grobben has plans to expand his team of five to about 15 people as the business grows.

"This technology will put Singapore on the global map, as it is a technology that can be used anywhere in the world," he said.

"It is my vision that, one day, we will have a geographically dispersed and optimised supply chain to cater to our global clients in an environmentally sensitive way," he added.

EcoWorth Tech will be showcasing the CFA technology at the Innovation Pitch at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore.

The summit will be held in Singapore from Sunday to Thursday at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline ''Game-changer' in local waste management scene'. Print Edition | Subscribe