February 29, 2024

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NTU Develops Tech to Turn Plastic Trash into Fuel

Image Credits: NTU, Press Release

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a new method for plastic waste to be converted into hydrogen based on pyrolysis, a high-temperature chemical process.

Unlike PET plastic bottles which can be recycled easily, plastic litter containing contaminated food packaging, styrofoam and plastic bags, is challenging to recycle and is currently incinerated or buried in landfills, leading to both water and ground pollution.

Using the new method, NTU scientists are now able to convert plastic litter into two main products, hydrogen and a form of solid carbon known as carbon nanotubes – a high-value material used in biomedical and industrial applications. Hydrogen is useful for generating electricity and powering fuel cells like those found in electric vehicles, with clean water as its only by-product.

Developing such hydrogen technologies is part of Singapore’s plan to explore hydrogen technologies in its push to diversify energy sources, as it could replace fossil fuels such as natural gas while lowering the carbon footprint of the nation.

This waste-to-hydrogen research project used marine litter collected from local waters in collaboration with the Ocean Purpose Project, a non-governmental organisation and social enterprise. Together with industrial partner Bluefield Renewable Energy, the joint project demonstrates the potential for all non-recyclable plastics to be upcycled into fuels and high-value materials.

Scaling up this technology to the industrial scale will be a big step forward for Singapore, opening up an alternative clean energy source while it carries out its inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan. The nation is currently seeking to reduce the waste being disposed of at Semakau Landfill by 30 per cent by 2030, which will help to extend the landfill’s lifespan beyond 2035.

About Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan

Singapore’s inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan charts out Singapore’s key strategies to build a sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient nation. This includes adopting a circular economy approach to waste and resource management practices and shifting towards more sustainable production and consumption.

In the last 40 years, the amount of waste disposed of in Singapore has increased seven-fold. At this rate, Semakau Landfill, Singapore’s only landfill, will run out of space by 2035. There is limited land for building new incineration plants or landfills in Singapore.

Moreover, the incineration of waste, while efficient and avoiding the problems of land and marine contamination, generates carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. The Masterplan has set a new waste reduction target for Singapore – to reduce the waste sent to Semakau Landfill each day by 30 per cent by 2030 – which will help to extend Semakau Landfill’s lifespan beyond 2035.

In addition, like Singapore, like other regions across the globe, battles climate change and increasing waste, the nation is investing in R&D and collaborating with industry experts to develop new, more efficient and eco-friendly ways to support the circular economy approach by recovering resources from waste.

This includes using microbes to convert food waste into compost and even turning incineration ash into construction materials – just two of the many possible ways to close our waste and resource loops through recycling or reuse.

These innovations came about because we have been experimenting with cutting-edge science and technology for more sustainable solutions.

For instance, R&D enabled the creation of Semakau Landfill, the first offshore landfill of its kind in the world, and Tuas Nexus – the first Waste-to-Energy incineration plant co-located with a water treatment facility to reap synergies.

Singapore will sustain a focus on R&D to develop and enhance new technologies, products or systems that can be used and eventually shared with others. In the coming years, the region hopes to pioneer transformative ways to enable Singapore to maximise resource use.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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