NTU kickstarts Singapore's first of its kind Waste-to-Energy unit at S$40 million

Waste-to-Energy Research Facility
Waste-to-Energy Research Facility NTU Twitter

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have introduced a new Waste-to-Energy Research Facility, which is capable of turning several solid wastes from the NTU campus into electricity and resources.

Apart from NTU and NEA, this $40 million project, located in Tuas, was supported by the National Research Foundation of Singapore and Economic Development Board (EDB). This initiative suggests Singapore's vision of becoming a zero-waste nation.

Managed by NTU, this unique facility includes a slagging gasification plant, which can heat up to 1,600 degrees Celsius, unlike conventional mass burn incinerators that operate at around 850 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature turns rubbish into syngas, mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen that can be used to produce electricity, a glass-like material that can potentially be used as construction material and metal alloy granulates that can be recycled.

The facility, designed and built by a multidisciplinary team from NTU, working closely with national agencies and industry, was launched on Monday, May 27 by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. As per a news release, this facility will facilitate the test-bedding of innovative technologies for converting waste into energy and useful materials through unique plug-and-play features.

"These technologies, if proven successful and implemented, can enable more energy and materials to be recovered from waste, thereby prolonging the lifespan of Semakau Landfill," the release stated.

It also added that the slagging gasification technology has potential to complement the current mass burn technology as it can treat diverse mixed waste streams that cannot be handled by these mass burn incinerators which are available in today's market.

The new facility makes NTU the only educational institution in the country to treat all of its solid waste using its own facilities.

How Waste-to-Energy Research Facility works:

  • Waste materials from the NTU campus are transported to the facility, which can treat 11.5 tonnes of waste daily.
  • The accumulated waste materials are then sorted, shredded and transported via a conveyor and a bucket lifted to the top of the furnace tower to be fed along with biomass charcoal that helps maintain the high temperature of the molten slagging layer at the base of the furnace.
  • The waste is dried and gasified as it moves down the furnace.
  • The syngas flows from the top of the furnace to the secondary combustion chamber, where it is burned to heat a boiler to generate steam.
  • Then the steam drives a turbine-generator to generate electricity.
  • The exhaust flue gas from the boiler is then treated with slaked lime and activated carbon and passed through a bag filter, before being discharged as cleaned gas through a stack into the atmosphere.

NTU President Professor Subra Suresh said that this initiative will enable "our scientists to scale up promising ideas from lab prototypes into practical engineering solutions for sustainable waste management"

In addition, Tan Meng Dui, Chief Executive Officer of NEA, stated that this partnership reflects NEA's expanding focus on waste management technologies.

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