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Singapore Leads Efforts to Further Improve Reverse Osmosis Technology April 20, 2014

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It is estimated that in at least 15 years, about half of the global population would have reduced or no access at all to drinking water. Singapore is one of the countries that are expected to be hit severely by further depletion of potable drinking water supplies. That is why the national government is actively working to boost production of drinking water supply in a more energy efficient and affordable way. It is eyeing more effective and cheaper approaches to reverse osmosis.

Within the state-country’s busy center is a building that houses a test laboratory, which is being groomed to emerge as a major and significant player in the local water business. ‘Water Hub’ is a two-year old facility that has been testing and using most advanced available technologies and techniques for water reuse and reclamation. It has been establishing itself as a significant frontrunner in bolstering international research initiatives for water purification through reverse osmosis.

For the past decades, the Singaporean government has been aggressively finding sustainable and more effective means of water treatment to be able to provide safe and potable water supply to its major industries and about 4.8 million people in its territory. The realization of depleting water resource has prompted Singapore to initiate competition and efforts to be able to find and secure the most energy-efficient and cost-effective way of converting ordinary seawater into safe and useful drinking water.

Water Hub is funded and supported by numerous local firms and organizations. Among those companies is Siemens Water Technologies. The firm has won the ‘Singapore Innovative Technology Challenge’ in 2008 for its new seawater desalination technique. The company’s process is able to lower energy consumed for reverse osmosis by up to 90%. The technology is facilitated through channeling seawater for treatment through a reliable electric field rather than the conventional energy-intensive vaporizing and heating processes.

In traditional reverse osmosis, salt in water is effectively filtered out via porous membranes that could retain about 99.7% of salt in seawater. This way, safer and more potable drinking water is produced without any need or requirement for post-treatment. Through the years, many companies and governments that use the process have been complaining about the usually high costs and tediousness of performing reverse osmosis. In fact, world organization Water Aid has excluded the process in its list or recommended water purification techniques because reverse osmosis is usually too expensive, especially when conducted in a massive scale.

Singapore is one of the countries that are acting aggressively to any water supply problem in the future long before such setbacks occur. The national government hopes its intensive research efforts could help it lead a global effort is eliminating possible safe and potable water supply depletion in the future. It also recognizes the fact that there is a need to find cheaper and more efficient methods for reverse osmosis so that developing countries could also reap the benefits of such technology.

Researchers at Water Hub are also actively aiming to patent a green technology that could pave the way for alternative sources of energy. The group believes that aside from making reverse osmosis more viable and useful, other related measures should be discovered and developed to help make the world a better and safer place to live in.

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