Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore is commercialising its water membrane technology in China via a spinoff called NanoSun, following a S$4.3 million (US$3.14 million) joint venture between NTU spin-off venture NanoSun and the China Commerce Group for International Economic Cooperation (CCIEC).
Co-founded by Associate Professor Darren Sun from NTU Singapore’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Adjunct Professor Wong Ann Chai from NTU Singapore’s Nanyang Business School, NanoSun is actively developing technological applications centred on multi-function membranes manufactured by 3D printing. Its valuation in September 2014 was US$80 million.
Launched in May 2013, NanoSun is nurtured and supported by NTUitive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTU, which supports startup ventures by faculty and students. It assists them by providing mentorship, advice and funding access.
To date, NanoSun had signed deals with PT Pelaksana Jaya Mulia, of Indonesia to provide 10,000 cubic metres of clean water per day. In China, NanoSun has also worked with a Guangzhou industrial paper mill to optimise wastewater treatment processes.
The joint venture involves NanoSun deploying its membrane technology to treat industrial wastewater in the Qingdao National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone. This is a 20 square kilometre industrial zone in Shandong and is expected to act as a springboard to China’s industrial wastewater treatment market.
The membrane technology is highly resistant to breakage and incorporates anti-bacterial and anti-biofouling properties, as well as superior longevity relative to conventional technology, according to media statements by NanoSun.
Wong shared that “NanoSun technology cannot be developed without market inputs. Many communities are water-stressed, facing a shortage of clean drinking water or pollution in their water sources. This is where cost-effective yet efficient solutions can make a huge impact to people’s lives.”
The joint venture has taken orders to treat one million litres of wastewater from the textile industry by August 2014. Until 2019, they expect to treat approximately 100 million litres of wastewater. This leverages on a business strategy that’s been described in official statements by the company as “technology-ntensive, market-driven and ably supported by China’s manufacturing capabilities and supply chain”.
Using self-cleaning, 3D-printed membrane water filter technology developed to clean industrial wastewater that’s beyond the capabilities of conventional technology to treat, the technology also offers opportunities for water reclamation
Sun, who is the chairman of the Chemical Industries Specialty Group of the International Water Association (IWA), stated “What we will demonstrate at Qingdao will be an affordable but effective technology that can turn polluted and industrial wastewater into a source of clean water, without the generation of secondary waste which other systems have. We see great potential for our innovative made-in-NTU technology to succeed in China and beyond.”