To develop sustainable solutions for challenges facing urban cities, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) is collaborating with one of South Korea’s largest construction firms, Hyundai Engineering & Construction.
Named the NTU-Hyundai Urban System Centre, the joint research centre aims to tackle critical areas for cities such as the use of underground space, seawater desalination and innovative construction methods.
This is the first time a major Korean construction company is setting up a research centre outside South Korea and they have chosen Singapore for carrying out research and development on urban solutions.
Officially launching the joint research centre today were NTU Provost Prof Freddy Boey; Dr Lee Seok Hong, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Hyundai Engineering & Construction; and Mr Goh Chee Kiong, Executive Director of Cleantech at the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).
The centre, which received a total funding of close to S$8 million for the next three years, is supported by EDB and will be working on five projects in the first phase.
These projects include finding new ways to reuse sediments through combining it with industrial by-products; developing a low-energy desalination process to turn sea water into clean water; pre-fabricated modules for offshore floating platforms such as oil rigs; and a new system to design and manage rock caverns.
NTU Provost Professor Freddy Boey said this collaboration with Hyundai is a huge milestone for Singapore and the university, given that there are many similar challenges faced by both countries when it comes to development of urban cities.
“In Singapore where we have limited land, we have to develop innovative ways of creating more space, such as going underground and developing rock caverns – an area which Hyundai has deep expertise in,” said Prof Boey.
“On the other hand, NTU is among the world’s top research universities for desalination and water treatment technologies, and has played an important role in Singapore’s long-term water sustainability.
“This new joint research centre, built on the research expertise of both organisations, is expected to develop new solutions that are critically needed by urban cities worldwide – solutions that will give us more space to live and work in, turn waste into resources, lower the cost of drinking water and help increase productivity and efficiency in construction.”
Dr Lee Seok Hong, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Hyundai Engineering & Construction, said: “We are extremely proud that we have maintained our track record of achieving key construction milestones in Singapore, including Changi Airport. We have also played a major role in land reclamation in Singapore since the Pulau Tekong Reclamation Project in 1981. We have contributed to the 31.6 square kilometres of land expansion, which is about 5.5 per cent of the nation’s territory.
“This new research centre is expected to bring technological innovation for sustainable development in the CleanTech industry, using NTU’s excellence in cutting-edge research and Hyundai’s extensive experience and accumulated technologies.”
Dr Lee also emphasised the role of the centre: “We hope that this centre will play a key role in achieving sustainable growth in the Asia Pacific region and beyond, leading ultimately to a win-win outcome for Singapore and Korea. I believe this centre will serve as a global hub to explore further opportunities to formally collaborate on matters of mutual concern and interest, including new green technology and sustainable environmental solution.”
Mr Goh Chee Kiong, Executive Director, Cleantech, Singapore EDB, said: “Hyundai’s choice to establish in Singapore its first Research and Development centre outside Korea, is testament to our position as an innovation partner to develop, test and commercialise new urban solutions.
“This investment supports Singapore’s recent announcement on a new national R&D budget, in which Urban Solutions and Sustainability is one of the key domains. We look forward to Hyundai working with NTU to co-create new urban solutions that address Singapore’s national needs, and subsequently export this knowhow to fast-growing cities in the region.”
The collaboration will leverage NTU’s key research strengths and facilities in civil engineering, water and environmental technologies as well as waste management.
Five areas identified for joint research
- Development of sediment re-utilisation technology by using industrial by-products in Singapore – this project aims to reduce cost by recycling and reusing materials.
- Development of low-energy hybrid desalination process using forward osmosis membranes – forward osmosis membranes are known to be more energy efficient as compared to conventional reverse osmosis membranes.
- Development of precast module and mooring system for offshore floating platform – by precasting modules, this could improve port productivity significantly.
- Development of coastal hydraulics analysis system for advanced design of intake and outfall facilities – having such an advanced analysis system will curb excessive construction costs and lead to a reduction of risks.
- Development of a construction management and preliminary design system for rock caverns – this will enable a better management of underground space development
The new research centre will be hosted by NTU’s College of Engineering and the NTU’s Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI) at JTC CleanTech One.
It will have more than 20 full time researchers and scientists from NTU and Hyundai working on the five initial projects.