by | Dr Fei-Yee YEOH, Leader, EcoClay® Team
Water is an extremely important life resource which is often easily overlooked by people due to its abundant availability. In fresh water processing plants, water sludge which is by-produced as an industrial waste is no longer permitted to be disposed of in conventional approaches such as discharging back into water resources or using for landfill due to its metal contents. The Environmental Acts 1974 and 2009 require all sludge to be treated prior to their disposal to prevent metal leaking into the environment. This increases the cost of operations. Other than legal obligations, water processing companies are also driven to invest in water sludge treatment due to increasing environmental concerns and for corporate image purposes.
EcoClay® is developed as an eco-friendly solution for water sludge treatment without using synthetic chemicals. It is exceptionally cost effective as it uses only natural materials to achieve its objective for metal immobilisation, complying with the regulations. The name EcoClay® is derived from the clay products resulted from the treatment. It serves as a green material for clay, tile, and ceramic to sanitary ware manufacturers. EcoClay® provides these industrial alternative raw materials with consistent quality, cost effective and eco-friendly. With strong technical support from our R&D team, we are able to replace conventional clay excavated from the clay mine, thus minimizing environment degradation and deforestation, and reducing the carbon foot print.
Project EcoClay® is inspired by a desire to secure a sustainable environment through providing a solution that benefits two industries – water processing and ceramic. It is a market driven R&D initiative which was initiated to as an effort to fulfil the industrial request for university research. However, in order to benefit the entire ecosystem for both industries, it has to be up-scaled through technology commercialisation by technopreneurs. EcoClay® has completed its proof of concept for initial prototype and is moving to the pilot plant stage. Further involvement and collaborative efforts from various parties, especially users such as water processing companies and ceramic industry, investors and funders, as well as regulators will be essential for this initiative to be a success.
EcoClay® was first initiated to develop a clean technology solution for water sludge treatment upon answering an industrial request for industrial-academia technology research and development collaboration. With the involvement in GCIP, a tripartite partnership is formed spearheading the initiative all the way towards clean technology commercialisation. Leveraging on GCIP, a cross-disciplinary team has been forged, involving various talent including research scientists, development engineers, product designers and artist, industrial experts, business partners and NGOs, along with helps from a broad base of consultants, coaches, government agencies and officers.
Involvement in GCIP 2014 had laid a very clear commercialisation pathway for EcoClay®. Knowledge gained from seminars and webinars, advices from coaches, facilitation by the organiser enable us to explore numerous possibilities and set a clear direction for EcoClay® for the most optimum commercialisation practice.
EcoClay® is established as a project to provide Eco-materials solution for green technology development. Its core activities include development of advanced and functional materials by value adding industrial and agriculture wastes for various clean technology applications. Turning water sludge from wastes to wealth is one of its contributions to clean technology.