Discussions on innovation in wastewater treatment are necessary more than ever as we move towards achieving the sustainable development goals. This requires the participation of different stakeholders: industry, government and research institutions. As a speaker for this webinar, and SCELSE senior research fellow, here’s my 5 key takeaways from this UK-SG/academic & industry discussion.
The balanced views on the needs and potential for innovation in wastewater treatment were remarkable. We had perspectives from the government (Singapore’s PUB), private company (UK’s Veolia) and two research centres – SCELSE & University of Edinburgh to shed light on the issues faced on the ground; and research that is being carried out in both experimental and modeled systems.
as Veolia’s tech manager, Paul Banfield, highlighted some current problems in wastewater treatment practice, three in activated sludge and one in anaerobic digestion:
He highlighted the practical relevance of understanding the ecology of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) and challenges of treating greasy wastewater.
Neural networks, a machine learning technique, could be used to distinguish good from bad settling flocs in microscopy images from activated sludge plants. This was also an eye-opener for me.
Finally, I hope the audience understood my point that ecological theory can lead to innovations in wastewater treatment, by allowing us to classify, interpret and predict the response of microbial communities to disturbances. I also shared about the relevance of the variability and sometimes stochastic nature of the biological processes we depend on for wastewater treatment. These views are important in practice, since wastewater treatment relies on complex communities of microbes that interact with themselves and with the environment.
This webinar was organised by SNBC, NBIC, SCELSE and SG MEM; and was held on 12 Oct 21.
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