An innovative start up in China has deployed over 40 boats in the rivers of China in a bid to stop pollution at the source and to stop anymore waste from reaching the ocean.
Founded in 2017, ORCA-TECH uses urban and coastal waters as scenarios, supported by many scenario iterations and ultra-long surface driving data, to create a series of surface environmental service robots.
The company has extended its product functions and applications and has now formed three major businesses that focus on water surface cleaning, as well as water security and water data.
There are many ocean clean up projects going on in the world, but ORCA-TECH’s vision is to clean up the rivers and waterways at the source so that it never gets as far as the ocean, and so that the ocean will not be further polluted.
High Efficiency Robot for City Waterworks
The concept was first brought to life as a university project, designing a robot to be able to identify garbage autonomously, and that it could identify densely polluted water areas and differentiate types of rubbish without human supervision.
ORCA-TECH combines robotics and AI to launch robots that can automatically clean the water surface.
The boat can be controlled using remote control or the boat can also be used as a self-driving robot. It can identify what areas of the river are most polluted and how to collect waste most efficiently.
The boat also uses cameras and sensors. It can check the water environment and can be used to measure the distance between the boat and the rubbish to be collected.
Added features on the boat can monitor water quality or act as security on the waterways.
The boat is also using Machine Learning through the enormous amount of data and images it collects, to better identify the different types of garbage it collects.
The boat also separates the garbage by garbage type on board the boat, rubbish is dived into separate bins by material type.
Technology in the fight against river pollution worldwide
The next phase of their plan is to increase their presence in mainland China, focusing on increasing the client base and growing their fleet of boats. They are looking to place 100 boats in the rivers of China in the next coming year. With more investment they aim to upgrade the technology used on the boats in the future.
ORCA-TECH are mainly working with private sector companies in the environment and water treatment sectors, but they are aiming to garner interest internationally.
To date, they have mass produced the robots and successfully promoted them to more than 30 cities in China, Spain and UK.
They have partnered with international manufacturer IKEA for a campaign which saw them launch 3 branded boats on the Thames in London to help clean out the capital city’s river. They also supplied a boat for a major exhibition in Barcelona in Spain.
The ‘Data Brain of the Water’
It is believed that the robot is six times more efficient than manual cleaning with 50% less cost.
It was selected as the best intelligent sanitation equipment in China in 2019.
The company collects information from various waterways to build ‘the data brain’ of the water environment through their robots.
In the future, they aim to upgrade the robots’ self-driving algorithm and launch water transportation, water logistics and other services, and make the water environment a major part of the smart city.
Two professors at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) have invented advanced technology to reduce C02 emissions. They developed a series of low-cost, green, and efficient porous nano-SiO2/Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents using solid waste as the main raw materials. Their studies were supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the National Key R&D Program of China, a tech company and have also been published in the well-known journals of Environmental Science & Technology and Chemical Engineering Journal in the environmental and energy fields.
Solid amine adsorbents are among the most promising CO2 adsorption technologies for biogas upgrading due to their high selectivity toward CO2, low energy consumption, and easy regeneration. However, in most cases, these adsorbents undergo severe chemical inactivation due to urea formation when regenerated under a realistic CO2 atmosphere. The porous nano-Al2O3 support was firstly synthesised from high-aluminium coal fly ash, and the active PEI was then impregnated on the nano-Al2O3 support to prepare the solid amine CO2 adsorbent, which possessed a superior CO2 adsorption capacity of 136 mg·g-1.
Significantly, this solid amine CO2 adsorbent showed stable adsorption capacity even regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere. Moreover, its CO2 adsorption capacity still maintained as high as 111 mg·g-1 adsorbent after 10 cycles, which was 5.5 times higher than that of traditional nano-SiO2 supported solid amine adsorbents.
This technical route can realise the high-value utilisation of coal fly ash and significantly improve the cyclic stability of solid amine adsorbent regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere. Therefore, it has broad application prospects in CO2 capture and separation processes such as industrial source CO2 capture and biogas upgrading.
On this basis, the research group continued to study in-depth the interaction mechanism of support-organic amine and the anti-urea chain formation mechanism of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents.
The results have shown that the unique cross-linking reaction between nano-Al2O3 support and organic amine molecules significantly inhibited the formation of urea chains in nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents during the cyclic adsorption-regeneration process, thereby greatly improving the cyclic stability of CO2 adsorption capacity. The study further verified the long-term cyclic stability of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents, whose adsorption capacity decreased by only 29% after 100 cycles regenerated under the pure CO2 atmosphere.
This work not only clarifies the CO2 adsorption cycle stabilisation mechanism of nano-Al2O3 supported solid amine CO2 adsorbents, but also provides design ideas for the development of new high-stable solid amine CO2 adsorbents with anti-urea properties.
This technology is in line with China’s active participation in global climate governance and insists on promoting CO2 mitigation. General Secretary put forward the ambitious goal of striving to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 at the 75th United Nations General Assembly.
The General Secretary stated that the COVID-19 pandemic reminds everyone that humankind should launch a green revolution and move faster to create a green way of development and life. Humans also need to preserve the environment and make Mother Earth a better place for all.
Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature and go down the beaten path of extracting resources without investing in conservation. Humans cannot always pursue development at the expense of protection, and exploiting resources without restoration.
The Paris Agreement on climate change charts the course for the world to transition to green and low-carbon development. It outlines the minimum steps to be taken to protect the Earth. All countries must take decisive steps to honour this agreement. China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures. China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced the launch of the 6th edition of the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, with the theme “Harnessing Technology to Power Green Finance”.
The competition aims to unlock the potential of FinTech in accelerating the development of green finance in Singapore and the region. FinTech firms and solution providers around the world are invited to submit innovative solutions to address over 50 problem statements that have been collected from financial institutions and green finance industry players.
These problem statements focus on three key challenges: Mobilising Capital, Monitoring Commitment and Measuring Impact.
Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS said, “Green FinTech can be an important enabler to accelerate Asia’s transition to a low carbon future. It can provide much needed innovative solutions, and develop the crucial technology stack, which can help promote green financial services, catalyse efficient allocation of green capital, and facilitate trust in the green data value chain. I encourage all innovators to make use of this platform and showcase their Green FinTech solutions to the world.”
Up to 15 finalists will be shortlisted for a virtual programme where they will be paired with a Corporate Champion (Corporate Champions are teams from Singapore-based financial institutions or organisations that mentor finalists during the Hackcelerator, working with them to refine and contextualise the solution) to develop customised prototypes on the API Exchange (APIX).
APIX is a product of the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network and is a not-for-profit entity formed by the MAS, the International Finance Corporation and the ASEAN Bankers Association, with the objective of supporting financial innovation and inclusion around the world
Each finalist will also receive a S$20,000 cash stipend and be eligible for a fast-tracked application for the MAS Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme Proof-of-Concept Grant of up to S$200,000. Finalists will pitch their solutions at the Demo Day held at this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival.
The Singapore FinTech Festival is the world’s largest FinTech festival and a global platform for the FinTech community comprising FinTech players, technopreneurs, policymakers, financial industry leaders, investors including private equity players and venture capitalists and academics.
It will be held on 8 to 12 November 2021. Up to three winners will be selected, with each receiving S$50,000 in prize money. All FinTech firms and solution providers should submit their applications for the MAS Global FinTech Hackcelerator by 11 June 2021.
China launched the core capsule which is tasked with transporting the 22.5-ton capsule to a low-Earth orbit about 400 kilometres above the land to place the first piece of China’s space station. This is the biggest and heaviest spacecraft China has ever constructed. The craft’s weight equals that of 15 ordinary-sized cars combined.
As the countdown ticked down to zero at 11:23 am, 10 engines at the bottom of a Long March 5B heavy-lift carrier rocket roared to life. It generates a thrust power of 1,068 metric tons to lift the 18-story-tall vehicle through thick rain clouds covering the coastal city of Wenchang.
The core capsule, named Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens, is 16.6 meters long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters. It has three parts-a connecting sections, a life-support and control section and a resources section. The module will be central to the space station’s future operations because astronauts will live there and control the entire station from inside. It will also be used to host scientific experiments.
This launch marked the second flight of Long March 5B, the most powerful Chinese rocket when it comes to carrying capacity to low-Earth orbit. With a core stage and four side boosters, the rocket has a lift-off weight of 849 tons, capable of sending a 25 ton payload to orbits near Earth. The Long March 5B is now the only rocket in China that can launch Tiangong’s heavy components.
The craft is so big that each of its side boosters is nearly 28 meters tall, the height of a 9-story building, and 3.35 meters wide. Each of them has a thrust power of 240 tons, even stronger than many mid-lift rockets. To hold huge spacecraft, the rocket has China’s largest payload fairing that is 20.5 meters tall and 5.2 meters wide.
Construction for the space station marks the beginning of the third stage in China’s manned space program, which was approved by the government in 1992. The program’s first two stages had concluded successfully with six manned spaceflights and two experimental space lab missions.
After the capsule was launched, astronauts on the Shenzhou XII and XIII missions and two cargo ships will be launched within a few months to prepare the module for docking with other parts of the station. Next year, China will make Tiangong’s two space labs, two manned missions and two robotic cargo flights to continue the construction of the station. Once completed, the facility will be capable of docking with multiple crewed and cargo spaceships at the same time. It will also be able to link with foreign spacecraft if they have a designated docking hatch.
The station will be manned by three astronauts in extended shifts that will last several months. During handovers between shifts, the station will accommodate up to six astronauts. The entire Tiangong station is expected to become fully operational around the end of 2022 and is set to work for about 15 years. In addition to its components, the station will also be accompanied by an optical telescope that will be lifted after the station’s completion to fly together with it, according to them.
The Director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) says that his agency will strive to make sure that the space station will be made the best use of to advance space science, technology and application. scientists will be able to use the facility’s unique environment to perform mutation breeding, produce special medicines and create new materials, thus generating scientific, technological and economic benefits.
China is open to cooperation with foreign nations in the space station project. The Chinese agency has signed agreements with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on space station cooperation. The two organizations jointly published an announcement of opportunity, inviting scientists from around the world to submit their research proposal for an opportunity to conduct their experiments onboard the Chinese station.
The Director of CMSA states that 17 foreign nations have confirmed their participation in nine scientific tasks on their station and related work is proceeding well. They will next continue working with the UNOOSA to solicit proposals for future scientific collaborations
The implementation of TraceTogether-only SafeEntry (TT-only SE) will be brought forward to 17 May 2021 from the previously announced 1 June 2021.
This means all venues that are required to enforce SE check-in will be required to implement TT-only SE from 17 May 2021. These venues are those that experience higher throughput of visitors such as malls, workplaces, places of worship, schools and educational institutions, as well as places where people are likely to be in close proximity for prolonged periods like dine-in food and beverage outlets and gyms.
This move aims to achieve greater coverage and active participation in the TT Programme, especially for venues or settings where community spread is most likely to occur.
It will strengthen digital contact tracing and help the government better manage the recent rise in community cases, some of which are currently unlinked and have resulted in the formation of community clusters. With more effective digital contact tracing, the speed of isolating close contacts will be improved.
Implementation of TT-only SE
With the nationwide implementation of TT-only SE on 17 May 2021, SE check-in must be performed using a TT App or Token by: using the TT App to scan the venue’s QR code; displaying a TT Token so that a venue staff can scan the TT Token’s QR code or tapping the TT App or TT Token at a SafeEntry Gateway device.
Other modes of SE check-in such as launching your phone’s camera to scan a venue’s QR code and using Singpass App will be discontinued from 17 May 2021. To help ease the transition, scanning of barcodes on personal IDs will be retained until 31 May 2021.
SEGW required to be deployed at more venues
From 15 June 2021, more public-facing venues where people are likely to be in contact for prolonged periods, such as food and beverage dine-in outlets, hotels, and sports and fitness centres, will be required to deploy SafeEntry Gateway (SEGW) to facilitate SE check-in, and help users check that their TT Token is working. The SEGW will not light up or emit a beep sound if the TT Token is not working.
Venue operators can either download the SafeEntry (Business) App to use the SEGW function, or set up the SEGW Box. Venues that are required to deploy the SEGW will be able to apply for free SEGW Boxes. More information on how venue operators can apply for the SEGW Box is available on the SE Website.
TT App Update and TT Token Battery Replacement
As effective contact tracing requires the active usage of the TT App and Token, TT App users should ensure that their App is updated to the latest version, turn on their Bluetooth, and keep the App active in the background; while Token users should ensure that their Token has not run out of battery and always have the Token with them when they leave home.
TT Token users can check if their Token is working by looking out for a green light that blinks about once every minute. If the Token is blinking red, or if there is no light at all, users should replace their Token at any Community Club/Centre (CC), or at Token replacement booths set up at selected malls. Those who have not collected the Token can also do so at any CC islandwide. More information can be found on the TokenGoWhere website.
Importance of TT and SE
The TT Programme and SE are important digital tools that enable contact tracers to quickly identify and isolate close contacts of COVID-19 cases.This also helps to break transmission chains and prevent community outbreaks. While TT data identifies an initial list of close contacts, SE data provides the list of places visited by COVID-19 cases to help Singapore’s contact tracers establish cluster links. The combined use of these digital tools has enabled us to reduce the average time taken to contact trace from 4 days to less than 1.5 days.
These digital tools enable close contacts to be quickly isolated, and the general public to be alerted if they had been to places visited by COVID-19 cases, such as through the TT App or at wereyouthere.safeentry.gov.sg (with Singpass login).
They would then be able to take the precaution of monitoring their health closely for 14 days from the date of visit. Recently, more than 18,000 SMS alerts have been sent to individuals identified by SE as having been to places visited by COVID-19 cases linked to the Tan Tock Seng Hospital cluster.
With the recent community cases, active participation in the TT Programme is crucial for effective contact tracing. Singapore government urges co-operation to use either the TT App or Token, and to remain on guard in the fight against COVID-19.
The number of data breach alerts that the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) of Singapore received, tripled in the February-March period compared with the previous two months.
This comes amid a string of potential personal data leaks reported in recent months. Legal and information technology security experts said the increase could have been due to a new data breach notification requirement companies must follow as well as rising cyber-security threats.
As per reports, the PDPC stated that the February-March breach alerts it received involved organisations such as those from the finance, retail and manufacturing sectors. The personal data compromised in those cases included names, e-mail addresses, personal identity numbers, financial details, phone numbers and postal addresses. Experts said the data could be used for attempts to, for instance, take over victims’ online accounts to spread malware or transfer money to hackers.
PDPC added that data breaches are often caused by human error as well as malicious activities such as phishing or cyber-attacks.
Meanwhile, a United States-based cyber risk analytics firm said while it does not have comprehensive data for Singapore, it still recorded at least three data breaches in the first quarter. This is already a third of the at least nine cases it logged for Singapore for the whole of last year.
The biggest case recorded in Singapore for January to March this year was that for a furniture retailer. In that data breach, a hacker group claimed to have stolen the data of more than 300,000 customers.
Other cases reported in the last three months include those that affected third-party vendors of Singtel, Singapore Airlines and the National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute, as well as a breach that hit a local security firm.
The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) said that, for now, the local security firm and Singtel incidents, as well as one affecting e-mail servers have not affected Singapore’s critical information infrastructure, like those in the transport and telecoms sectors.
Also, for Singapore, the ransomware detection number increased by 45% in the second half of last year compared with the first half.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, cybersecurity has risen to the top of both national and international agendas. Government leaders from all over the world said that without cybersecurity there is no real national security. The boom of the digital economy and the digitalisation of businesses and society especially during the COVID-19 pandemic has now put the private sector at the centre of cybersecurity debates. Recent data mismanagements, or the revelations that social media sites compromised the data of millions of their users, highlight the central role that the private sector plays in cybersecurity. Undeniably, corporations are key players in the digital realm whether it is as distributors of malicious software, victims of cyber-attacks, or first responders to security breaches.
A partnership between both public and private sectors can help in trying to boost cyber resiliency policies and programmes. A lot of the technologies coming out are from industries, academes, and civil societies.
Therefore, Mr David Koh from the CSA believes that a multi-stakeholder engagement is an ideal method to improve cyber resilience on a bigger scale. Mr Koh noted that at an intellectual level, everyone understands cyber so everyone must also be committed to trying to find viable solutions.
He also emphasised that cybersecurity is the key factor in achieving an open and secured internet environment that can help boost domestic and international economies. Mr Koh and the CSA view cyber capacity building as a collective effort.
According to research funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Science and Technology, ultrahigh-speed, nonvolatile floating-gate memory devices can be achieved without the need to modify commercial device architecture. It can be done by employing 2D van der Waals heterostructures with improved interfacial coupling and atomically sharp interfaces.
In particular, ultrahigh-speed operations with nanosecond write and read times that is limited by instrumentation response, the extremely high extinction ratio of 1010 and a 10-yr retention time have been successfully achieved. This enhanced performance enables new device capabilities such as multi-bit storage, thus opening up applications in the realm of modern nanoelectronics and offering future fabrication guidelines for device scale-up.
The development of high-performance memory devices has played a key role in the innovation of modern electronics. It is critical to developing ultrafast and non-volatile memory devices driven by the explosive growth of massive data storage and the desire for ultrafast data processing. The current bottleneck in the memory field includes operation speed, data retention, endurance and extinction ratio.
In particular, while the scaling of devices continues, silicon-based technology will soon reach a critical limit to meet the increasing demands for memory capacity. One of the key challenges is related to the unavoidable interfacial dangling bonds in ultrathin-body silicon, which causes substantial degradation in device performance. It is thus an urgent need to seek atomically sharp interfaces and integrate them seamlessly into the device architecture.
Among all of the candidates, the emerging two-dimensional (2D) materials and their heterostructures represent ideal atomically flat in-plane surfaces potentially free from surface dangling bonds and are immune to short-channel effects that can allow effective electrostatic control and mechanical flexibility. Indeed, a few examples employing 2D materials for flash memory devices have been recently attempted but with limited device performance.
For example, a very long write time on the order of milliseconds to seconds was observed in the 2D materials based floating-gate memory devices, while alternative semi-floating-gate configurations have shown improved write time (nanoseconds) but extremely short retention time in the range of seconds, making them unsuitable for long-term storage.
Theoretically, an ideal floating-gate memory device based on planar layer materials should allow nanosecond order operational time, but the ultrahigh-speed floating-gate memory has not yet been reported so far.
Floating-gate memory devices based on van der Waals heterostructure with atomically sharp interface have comparable program speed with dynamic randomly accessed memory (DRAM), and simultaneously possessed non-volatile and large storage capacity. This is important for developing future high-performance non-volatile memory devices and provides an alternative route for the development of high-performance electronic devices based on van der Waals heterostructure. The main challenge for further application lies in the epitaxial growth of high-quality and large-scale hBN and two-dimensional atomic crystal materials and their device integration.
Development of Nanoscience and Technology in China
China is consistently committed to the development of nanoscience and technology and has set up research plans keeping up with the international pace of progress. For instance, China established the National Steering Committee for Nanoscience and Technology in 2000 and founded the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in 2003. The national medium and long-term development program includes nanoscience
By looking at publications of high-quality academic papers, patent applications, key areas of development, international collaborative networks and other aspects, it reveals recent trends of China’s development in nanoscience and technology in comparison to the world. Having also incorporated experts’ interpretations and views, the study applies both qualitative and quantitative analysis.
China has become a strong contributor to nanoscience research in the world and it is a powerhouse of nanotechnology R&D. Some of China’s basic research is leading the world. China’s applied nanoscience research and the industrialization of nanotechnologies have also begun to take shape, with nano-related patent applications leading the world.
These achievements are largely due to China’s strong investment in nanoscience and technology. China’s nanoscience research is also moving from quantitative increase to quality improvement and innovation, with greater emphasis on the applications of nanotechnologies.
With cyber threats to operational technology, especially industrial control systems, increasing in frequency and sophistication, the Singapore Cyber Security Agency (CSA) announced that it had established the Operational Technology Cybersecurity Expert Panel. The panel will strengthen local cybersecurity capabilities and competencies in the operational technology sector.
Singapore’s operational technology cybersecurity practitioners, operators, researchers and policymakers from the Government, critical information infrastructure (CII) sectors, academia and other operational technology industries will have direct access to the experts. The 11-panel members come from both public and private sectors, locally and internationally.
CSA said the experts will discuss issues ranging from governance policies and processes, evolving operational technologies, emerging trends, capability development, supply chain, threat intelligence information sharing and incident response. They will also recommend best practices to address cybersecurity challenges and gaps in the sector.
During closed-door one-to-one workshops, the experts will share with incident response teams from stakeholders their insights based on their own experience handling global cybersecurity incidents. The panel complements CSA’s operational technology cybersecurity masterplan announced in 2019 to protect Singapore from cyber-attacks on critical sectors like transport and water supply.
The plan aims to grow the talent pool of cybersecurity professionals and facilitate the exchange of information between the public and private sectors. Insights and recommendations from the panel will help shape initiatives under the plan, such as a code of practice and training programmes, said CSA.
The threat of a cyber-attack on Singapore’s critical infrastructure services remains low but the maritime sector has been in the crosshairs of hackers, said the members of an international panel appointed by the CSA.
Reports say that hackers have used increasingly sophisticated tools to target operational technology systems that run critical infrastructure services, such as those in the energy, water and transport sectors. The systems control everything from the electricity grid, traffic light controls, train-signalling systems and even sensors detecting the chemical content in drinking water.
At present, the damage created by such cyber-attacks has not surfaced in Singapore. However, it is important that businesses do not become complacent and should ensure they have an effective incident response or business continuity plan in place, said one tech security expert.
Mr David Koh, the commissioner of Cybersecurity and CSA’s chief executive, said while operational technology systems were traditionally separated from the Internet, increasing digitalisation has led to more IT and operational technology integration. Hence, it is crucial for operational technology systems to be better protected from cyber threats to prevent outages of critical services that could result in serious real-world consequences, said David.
To this end, he added that they are glad to have notable operational technology experts join them in sharing their expertise to develop and strengthen localised capabilities in operational technology cybersecurity, he added.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, from a larger perspective, David also mentioned that a rules-based framework must be implemented when dealing with cybersecurity. Therefore, the United Nations (in general) is an appropriate platform for cyber discussions to take place, given its open and inclusive nature for all 193 member states. By conducting discussions on the forum, UN members can now see the importance of cybersecurity for their respective countries. The broadening of the conversation on cyber resiliency and producing a consensus report from the UN OEWG is a significant achievement.
Accordingly, David said that if the approach in cybersecurity is in the same direction, whether it be for the potential impacts of cyber threats, up to the solutions that can deal with them, countries can expect a positive outcome in terms of strengthening cyber resiliency. Leaders and decision-makers must recognise that cybersecurity is an issue, and they need to work together so everyone can move forward in this journey of full digital transformation.