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Toray to establish water treatment R&D center at NTU in Singapore

Today, Toray Industries, Inc., a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan and the world's largest producer of carbon fiber, announced the establishment of Toray Water Technology Laboratory (TWTL) in Singapore to conduct research and development of water treatment technologies. Nanyang Technological University (NTU)'s Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI) is chosen as the choice partner for its research activities in Singapore.

"NTU welcomes TWTL as a partner for research activities. Such collaborative research is very much aligned with our efforts to promote and develop a strong research environment through interaction with industry partners. Collaboration with world-leading companies such as Toray also helps to enhance Singapore's position as a global water hub. Launched in 2008, NEWRI is the progression of NTU's efforts in environmental and water technologies (EWT) wherein these efforts are closely coordinated to provide a clearly defined window through which industry and research partners can access NTU's comprehensive EWT capabilities," says Professor Ng Wun Jern, Executive Director, NEWRI.

TWTL is part of Toray's vision to be a leading membrane manufacturer by 2010, particularly in the reverse osmosis membrane market for seawater desalination and reclamation of wastewater. TWTL, which will be housed in NTU's NEWRI, is supported by PUB Singapore's national water agency, the Economic Development Board (EDB), and NEWRI's R&D centres Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC) and Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering (iESE).

"Toray's corporate philosophy is to contribute to society through the creation of new value by innovative ideas, technologies and products. Toray began the R&D on reverse osmosis (RO) membrane in 1968, and as a result of the continuous R&D effort, its product line has been expanded to a full line up of water treatment membranes from RO to NF, UF, MF and MBR. This means Toray is a typical organic growth company based on its own technologies. We would like to refine our technologies and product quality by collaborating with NTU's leading edge technologies of water treatment, membrane and membrane processes," says Dr. Tadahiro Uemura, Director, Toray Industries, Inc.

The focus of TWTL's research and development activities are on membrane-based water treatment technologies. For its inaugural project, Toray is collaborating with NEWRI to develop innovative water treatment technologies in the area of membrane fouling mechanism. The joint research will be led by Professor Ng who is also an international authority in water and wastewater treatment technology.

Professor Ng adds, "Partnership with industry partners is a good reflection of NEWRI's emphasis on excellent science, and our interest to translate cutting-edge environmental and water technologies research results into innovative business solutions that will benefit the industry and society. We look forward to working with Toray and to the anticipated breakthroughs arising from our joint efforts."

Mr Manohar Khiatani, Deputy Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said, "We are delighted that Toray, a global leader in membrane technology, has decided to collaborate with our NEWRI. This underscores our position as a leading hydrohub and also reflects the strong ties between Japan and Singapore, which are both strongly committed to water-related R&D. We are confident that Singapore's advantages as an innovation hub will allow Toray to use our city-state as a test-bedding platform to develop new-generation water technologies."

To seal the research partnership, Professor Ng and Dr Uemura signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 24 June 2009, at the Singapore International Water Week venue. Mr Khoo Teng Chye of PUB, Mr Manohar Khiatani of EDB and Dr Masaru Kurihara of International Desalination Association (IDA), witnessed the signing ceremony.

The centre will start research activities from September 2009 with a staff of five people including engineers and researchers dispatched from Japan in addition to local employees. Toray plans to expand the size of the laboratory's staff to 30 or more people over five years.

In December 2007, Toray signed an MOU regarding water treatment-related joint development with PUB. Under the agreement, PUB and Toray aim to train and nurture young engineers at universities in Singapore. The joint research with NTU announced this time is expected to also serve this purpose.

NEWRI is conceived as a centre of excellence in EWT research, education and technology development. It coordinates NTU's EWT "ecosystem" and brings about enhanced opportunities for Singapore-based researchers to work with leading international experts. While NTU's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering provides an academic foundation in EWT, NEWRI sets to nurture students further through postgraduate EWT programmes, such as the NEWRI Environmental Master of Science (NEMS) programme, offered in collaboration with Stanford University.


Contact: Esther Ang
Nanyang Technological University

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