New Delhi: The phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is an apt one for Singapore. The island city-state is coming up with innovative technologies to match its water consumption demands at 430 gallons every day.
This demand for water is expected to double in the next four decades – a cause of concern for the country with no natural water source of its own.
Singapore is no stranger to the threat of global water scarcity and being surrounded by water does not help its cause. The rising demand for fresh water has only put added pressure on the Asian city state, home to five million people. At present, it relies heavily on recycled water and imports from its neighbours.
Shane Snyder, Executive Director of the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, told CNN that climate change has made things worse for the country’s water woes.
“Singapore truly has become a global water hub. But as it stands, it imports approximately 40 per cent of its water today. And with climate change, that water has become far less dependable,” she said.
With rapid urbanisation and rising global temperatures, accessing natural water resources is increasingly getting difficult for Singapore. To tackle this crisis, there are research facilities like Snyder’s that are developing solutions for Singapore’s water dependency.
Snyder said the city state Singapore has to be prepared for the consequences of its reliance on quick available water. “There’s a big drive to become water independent — to control our own future — and that is largely dependent on the technologies we’re developing,” she said.
Among notable innovations on water in Singapore is the carbon fiber aerogel – a small, black sponge which can clean waste water on a mass scale. It can absorb 190 times its weight in waste, contaminants and micro plastics.
“We believe its potential impact is very big,” said Andre Stoltz, CEO of EcoWorth Technology, which is further developing the product for commercial use on a global scale. He told CNN that the product allows the company “to convert waste products to something of worth”.
The aerogel is not the last of Singapore’s innovations. WateRoam, which was founded in 2014, has developed a lightweight, portable filtration device that can clean dirty and contaminated water.
WateRoam CEO David Pong said the company is going with a “no-frills approach” because they treat water as a “basic commodity”. Stating that the simplicity of the product matches the simplicity of the problem, he added, “We want people who are laymen – not specialists or engineers – to be able to pick this product and intuitively know how to use it.”
The filtration device is the same size as a bicycle pump and can provide clean water to villages of 100 people for two years. It has already provided clean drinking water to more than 75,000 people across Southeast Asia, the company said.