Scientists embark on kidney-like water filter research

A research institute at Singapore' s Nanyang Technological University is expected to invest 132 million Singapore dollars (107 million US dollars) in researches in clean water technologies in the coming three years, including the biomimetic filter research that aims to copy the kidney in water treatment, a local newspaper reported on Saturday.

   The biomimetic filter has the potential to be the most efficient method of water treatment in the future, the Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported.
   The Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, which moved into a new building on May 4, will be focusing on new research projects in industrial wastewater treatment and the energy-waste-water nexus.
   The 132 million Singapore dollars earmarked for funding the institute's researches will come from various public agencies, including the National Research Foundation and Economic Development Board as well as multinational companies and local small and medium enterprises.
   Kidney is known as the best water filtering system, researchers said. It is still about twice as efficient as the reverse osmosis, a technology that is currently available, meaning that it consumes 50 per cent less energy for the same amount of water treated.
   The challenge is how to make the proteins on the membrane work as in the human or animal kidneys.
   Singapore is known for its remarkable water story of overcoming the challenge of fresh water shortage as an island city state. It has been relying on imported water from the neighbouring Malaysia but has been trying to achieve water self-sufficiency by building a rain water collection system and developing technologies for recycling waste water and desalination. It is now only a matter of time before Singapore becomes a fresh water self- sufficient country.
   Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's minister for environment and water resources, highlighted the potentials of biomimetic filter as well as membrane integrity sensors, which are used to detect whether the water filter remains intact.  (Xinhua)