Environment and Sustainability Cluster
The Environment and Sustainability (ES) Cluster aims to develop technologies that can be used to create sustainable living and work environments. Leveraging the capabilities of RP’s Conexus Centres, we specialise in three main areas:
- SMART Engineering Technology
- New materials
In particular, we focus on projects related to waste, water and energy as we strive to develop sustainable solutions for industry and society. For example, we work on the transformation of waste to energy; low-energy water recycling and desalination; development of low-cost fuel cells; vertical greening; and formulation of new low-energy building materials from waste. These solutions can help meet global needs in environment conservation, aquatic ecology and food security.
Low-energy wastewater treatment using distillation and microbial membranes
- Vertical greening and urban-heat-island remediation
- Conversion of waste and biomass into energy
- Portable hydrogen generators for low-cost fuel cells
- Dehumidification of building air using solar energy and waste heat
- Conversion of incineration ash into lightweight building materials
- Solutions for storing renewable energy
Check out some of our successful projects below. Get in touch with us and learn how you can benefit from our collaboration.
Thermoelectric Micro-coolers for Electronic and Optoelectronic Applications
Thermoelectric devices enable the cooling of other devices without the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and provide electricity generation under naturally occurring temperature differences. A thermoelectric module is a very simple device to convert electric energy directly into heat and vice versa. One of the current emphasis of microelectronic device development is miniaturisation of components with increased power capabilities. The size of today’s microelectronic chips is in the order of centimetres or millimetres, and their device components such as transistors are in the order of microns or sub-microns. As these chips become increasingly powerful, the ability to remove heat becomes a limiting factor.
Thermoelectric coolers are compact and lightweight, allowing them to easily fit the size of semiconductor chips. Thermoelectric cooling is an attractive approach to spot portable temperature control. It is highly preferable to integrate the micro-coolers directly into the microelectronic devices.
In this project, we are aiming to fabricate and apply a prototype thermoelectric micro-cooler onto a metal or ceramic-coated silicon substrate using sputter deposition processes. This issuitable for integration with electronic and optoelectronic components and devices.
Enhanced Silk Protein Material for High-performance Applications
With the increasing use of composites for lightweight manufacturing, natural fibres can offer a viable alternative to synthetic fibres. Spider silk and silkworm silk are potential candidates given their remarkable tensile strength and centuries-long history of use for protective, fashion and fabric-manufacturing purposes.
Besides being a renewable and environmentally friendly material, natural silkworm silk fibres also exhibit low density, high strength and high impact resistance. In this project, we aim to develop an enhanced silk material with superior strength.
Synthesis, Modification and Characterisation of Zeolite Catalysts for Upgrading Crude Bio-oil Derived from Biomass
Biofuels derived from renewable resources such as sugar cane, corn, vegetable oil, and animal fats can be one of the best alternatives to liquid fossil fuels. However, they often compete with food crops and can lead to increasing food prices. In addition, the expansion of oil crops used in part as biofuels contributes to the loss of natural tropical habitats. The clearing and burning of forests or plantation waste can also create other environmental issues such as haze. For these reasons, the possibility of developing renewable energy sources from non-food crops to replace traditional fossil fuels is of major importance.
Conversion of waste biomass to liquid products is one of the potential renewable energy sources from non-food crops. Biomass can be converted into synthetic fuels indirectly by gasification to syngas, followed by catalytic conversion to liquid fuels.
In this project, we are aiming to develop improved mesoporous zeolite materials with suitable metal ion loading to enhance their catalytic properties and hydrothermal stability. The zeolites that we are developing will have high hydrothermal stability, more uniform and bigger pores, a high ratio of aluminium/silicon, and mild acidity. This combination of properties should increase the yield of liquid fuels from syngas from 30–48 percent to about 60 percent.
Check out our Conexus Centres for a list of domain-specific capabilities.