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DEWT Students Win Big at the Energy Innovation Challenge Competition 2015

DEWT students Ong Ching Kang, Li Siyu and Ho Xiang Tian were declared 1st Runner Up in the National Engineer Day (NED 2015) - The Energy Innovation Challenge Competition for their project entitled “Harvesting energy from wastewater and sludge using microbial fuel cells (MFCs)”. The event was held at Suntec City (22-24 July 2015) and the award consisted of $1000 + Trophy and Certificates for the team.

The Energy Innovation Challenge is a national competition organized by Institute of Engineers, Singapore (IES) and Science Centre. There were altogether 13 ITE teams, 9 polytechnic teams with only ABE representing SP and another category of 30 teams from JCs and Sec Schools. The panels of judges consisted of academics from local universities and professionals from the energy industries.

Due to the value of research in this competition, good team work, aspiration, resilience, trust and good time management between supervisors, mentors, and project students were the key factors of success. This special project was very challenging due to the very short time with students working on parallel activities such their own final year projects and industrial attachment. However, with painstaking experimental work at ABE’s Hydraulic and Environmental laboratory, the team was able to prove the idea that an electrical voltage of up to 300 mV, at pH of 7, can be maintained with couple of grams of activated sludge obtained from sewage treatment plants.

The team was led by Dr Handojo Djati Utomo (ABE) with support from A/P Dr Cao Bin, Wu Yichao and Yang Yun from NTU (Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering).

A couple of personal reflections from the team:

“At the beginning, I was contemplating saying no to the competition. Eventually, I thought there's no harm in saying yes. However, problems surfaced right from the start - from registering and recruiting members, to tweaking of ideas, obtaining of resources and even near conflicts amongst members. Many times during this 4-month period I felt like giving up. However, we all had to persist. I'm glad I did. Hard work, resilience and perseverance were key factors to this. This has reinforced my believe to stay strong especially during hard times” 
“I never knew that sludge could be used for generating energy and it is a pretty new idea to me. If our idea could work well in the actual practice, sludge will be no longer be considered as useless waste material in Singapore”