An incineration research facility, to be built in Tuas by late 2018, will be the first here to turn waste into heat and synthetic gas. The gas can be bottled and sold, or pumped to a power plant to generate electricity.
This is different from current incineration plants in the Republic, which are mass-burn facilities that can produce only heat.
This heat can also be used to produce electricity, but it cannot be stored.
The new facility's incinerator will also reduce waste to slag - a glass-like by-product of melting metal - instead of ash, by firing up the waste at temperatures 20 to 50 per cent higher than the 800 deg C of typical plants. The slag can be used for construction purposes.
The new plant will be developed by Nanyang Technological University and the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a venture that will cost $40 million over 10 years. The two organisations yesterday signed an agreement to collaborate. This was at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore held at Marina Bay Sands.
The focus of the 0.7-hectare facility will be to provide a platform for technologies in the laboratory to be tested in an actual plant, said Professor Ng Wun Jern, executive director of the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute.
The facility, which will be able to treat 20 tonnes of garbage a day, will test-bed about six technologies a year, including a project to clean and upgrade synthetic gas, and use it to power gas engines or turbines at higher efficiencies.
Prof Ng said: "What we do in the lab is research, which 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."
This includes finding the right equipment to run the incinera- tion process.
NEA's chief executive Ronnie Tay said that while there is now enough manpower to operate the country's waste management facilities, technology developments and new facilities means their skills will need upgrading.
The new facility will help in this aspect, by being a training hub for 12 to 20 post-graduate students a year. "The facility will enable researchers and industry personnel to develop their skill sets and competency in waste management technology," added Mr Tay.