06 Aug 2019
Research visit to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Dr Kok Siew Ng (University of Oxford) and Dr Eleni Iacovidou (Brunel University London) visited Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), one of the leading universities in Malaysia to discuss potential project collaboration in relation to municipal solid waste management. The meeting was warmly hosted by the Head of Department of Chemical Engineering, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamad Amran b. Mohd Salleh and the Director of Sustainable Process Engineering Research Centre (SPERC), Associate Professor Ir. Dr. Wan Azlina bt. Wan Abdul Karim Ghani.
SPERC is a newly established research centre at UPM pioneering the application of systems approach in designing and integrating new industrial and waste valorisation technologies and processes. The research carried out by the Centre promotes sustainability, considering environmental, economic, safety and social aspects of different products life cycle, and fosters the development of new techniques for enabling material reuse and waste reduction. Dr Wan Azlina is a leading researcher in Malaysia specialises in thermochemical conversion of biomass and is also a member of the SYNERGORS consortium led by Dr Ng. A number of project ideas were generated during the meeting and a more consolidated collaboration plan among Oxford, Brunel and UPM was established.
Dr Wan Azlina says, “We are pleased to have identified a number of potential synergies among UPM, Oxford and Brunel and we are excited to be able to work more closely with the UK to drive the initiatives in promoting sustainability in resource utilisation.” A visit to the facilities at UPM, including the Environmental and Biotechnology Engineering Labs as well as the Analytical Labs, was arranged after the meeting.
The SYNERGORS Project
The SYNERGORS project (“A systems approach to synergistic utilisation of secondary organic streams”), funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is led by Dr Kok Siew Ng from the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. This project aims to develop new systems approaches and decision-making tools for promoting resource recovery from secondary organic waste streams including fossil- (e.g. used plastics) and biomass-derived waste (e.g. food waste, residual biomass).
SYNERGORS will provide significant insights into various options for organic waste reduction and utilisation, and propose viable business models to attract stakeholders in the commercial sectors to invest in these areas. Furthermore, the research will address various socio-environmental challenges faced by human and living communities, the rising global demands in energy and commodities, and lessening burdens on the landfill, water and atmosphere.
It is envisaged that the outcomes from this project (e.g. decision-making tool and roadmap) can be adopted in the UK and other developing countries in improving the policies and practices in relation to organic waste management. The objectives of the project are well aligned with the UK Industrial Strategy in enhancing resource efficiency while achieving a sustainable industrial growth and a more resilient economy. The project has received support from a number of UK and international organisations (academia, industry and government), providing multidisciplinary expertise to address the global challenges in waste management.
Dr Ng would like to express his gratitude to the NERC (now part of UKRI) for their invaluable support for this initiative. The British Council is also acknowledged as initial collaboration between the UK and Malaysia was first established through Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop. The current fellowship project funded by NERC has enabled further collaboration to be sustained for the next few years.
Dr Ng would also like to thank Professor Ir. Dr. Denny KS Ng (Associate Head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia), Associate Professor Ir. Dr. Wan Azlina bt. Wan Abdul Karim Ghani (Director of Sustainable Process Engineering Research Centre - SPERC, UPM) and Mr Tze Howe Ooi (President of Higher Education Youth Association - HEYA) for arranging the meetings and visits in Malaysia.
Please contact Dr Kok Siew Ng (email@example.com) if you are interested in learning more about the project.