Award-Winning Research from Sunway University Provides Access to Clean Water in Remote Areas

The IChemE Water category award recognizes the best project or process to demonstrate engineering excellence in water use, clean-up, and re-use, with particular emphasis on reducing environmental impact while preserving commercial viability.

The project, which was carried out in collaboration with Professor Ir. Dr Mohamed Azlan Hussain of the University of Malaya, is the “Self-Cleaning Ultrafiltration System Producing Clean Water.”

The innovative self-cleaning system has been used during the severe floods in the state of Kelantan, to produce clean water for flood victims. A few units of the system have been installed in remote villages without access to clean water in Sarawak and Perak.

clean water

This “Self-Cleaning Ultrafiltration System Producing Clean Water” won Professor Kheireddine, the 2016 University of Malaya’s award for outstanding achievement in community engagement.

According to Professor Kheireddine, “The system is an automated self-cleaning mobile ultrafiltration system which produces clean water from various sources such as river water, underground water, and spring water. Incorporating a self-cleaning smart backwash system that eliminates the use of chemicals, the system is also be driven by solar power and can be easily transported to rural areas whenever needed. This green system with high socio-economic impact addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 6, which is Clean Water and Sanitation. The readily available system has been installed in many remote villages in Malaysia producing clean water at a cost less than RM0.20 per m³. The research for the project was focussed on impacting societies and communities deprived of access to clean water.”

An article of the Self-Cleaning Ultrafiltration System by Professor Kheireddine Aroua and his collaborator Professor Ir. Dr Mohamed Azlan Hussain appeared in The Chemical Engineer magazine (Issue 942/943 – December 2019/ January 2020) published by IChemE.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is a multi-national institution to advance chemical engineering’s contribution to the benefit of society. The annual IChemE Global Awards which celebrates the chemical, process, and biochemical engineering excellence is widely recognized as the world’s most prestigious in chemical engineering.

Professor Kheireddine who hails from Tunisia has over 25 years of research and teaching experience. Attached to Sunway University since 2017, Professor Kheireddine has been listed among Highly Cited Researchers in 2018 as well as 2019 in Engineering by Clarivate Analytics. The award recognizes world-class researchers selected for their exceptional research performance, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science. The Web of Science is a premier research platform for information in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities.

Professor Kheireddine joined Sunway University for the excellent research environment and its support for the establishment of the Centre on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Utilisation which he said is his ultimate dream.

His aims for the Centre include; to perform world-class research, provide training and consultancy in areas of CO2 capture and; utilization and translation of the research into solutions with global economic and social impacts. His area of research and interests are in water security, energy security, and environment and climate change.

“I am interested in fundamental and applied separation processes such as CO2 capture using alkanolamine technology, membrane processes, adsorption, and electrochemical processes using activated carbon and modified activated carbon produced from agriculture waste.” He is currently working on developing green solvents for CO2 capture and advanced electrochemical processes to convert CO2 to useful chemicals.

“The research addresses UNSDG 13, Climate Action as CO2 is the major contributor to global warming; UNSDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy since CO2 is an impurity in natural gas and biogas, so its removal is mandatory; UNSDG 9, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure as transforming CO2 to useful chemicals can open up new business opportunities and industry areas”, explained Professor Kheireddine.

Professor Kheireddine is also active in research related to biodiesel production from various feedstocks such as Jatropha seeds and oil, the development of super-absorbent materials produced from agriculture waste by physical and chemical modifications, CO2 separation using ionic liquids, transformation of bioglycerol and membrane processes for drinking water supply during disasters and to remote villagers.

This article, written by Katherine Kee appeared on QSWOWNEWS