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Sembcorp in tie-up with two firms to test-bed emerging water technologies

SEMBCORP Industries on Monday signed memorandums of understanding with Mitsubishi Electric and Scinor (Asia) to test-bed new technologies for water under the Industrial Living Lab initiative.

The S$8 million initiative, which is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), was first announced in September last year.

It may allow Sembcorp to co-own intellectual property arising from the testing process, and should the results of the testing be positive, the firm hopes to work with its partners for preferential pricing for the new technologies once they are commercialised, Sembcorp said.

Mitsubishi and Scinor are the first two firms to partner Sembcorp under the initiative, and their technologies will be tested at Sembcorp's facilities.

The Japanese giant will be testing an ozone backwashing membrane bioreactor (MBR) dubbed the Eco-MBR, a patent-pending technology that provides increased membrane permeability and requires less membranes to be utilised, "making for more energy-saving, compact, wastewater treatment". Mitsubishi is targeting to commercialise the process by 2018, it said on Monday.

Scinor, a Chinese membrane manufacturer, is test-bedding polyvinylidene flouride membranes, which "offer significant energy savings of up to 30 per cent" and allows for "longer membrane life and extended plant life cycles".

The collaborations are on the back of the government's efforts to tap Singapore's strengths in water to accelerate the commercialisation and export of technologies that the Republic has built up expertise in over the years.

"The commercialisation and exportation of water technology is exactly what we are trying to do, to provide a platform for foreign firms to do R&D in Singapore," Sembcorp chief technology officer Siah Keng Boon told The Business Times.

"We are always asking ourselves how we can make use of new technologies to improve on our cost effectiveness and help our customers to increase their competitiveness," Mr Siah added.