Newton Fund

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Sustainable energy from effluent waste processing

Palm oil production is a major contributor to the Malaysian economy but this industry is also a large source of highly polluting waste effluents. Work to develop a sustainable bioremediation method has connected up with interest in biofuel production to boost the supply of energy to urban and rural areas in Malaysia.

This Newton-Ungku Omar Fund project aimed to tackle the issue of generating electricity and biofuel from effluent waste. The team developed an integrated approach to renewable energy, algal biomass technologies and sustainable bioremediation of waste waters. This involved selecting photosynthetically efficient tropical algae suitable for use in fuel cells and the development of a photobioreactor prototype Integrated Microbial Fuel Cell.

The project represents a blueprint for a platform that aims to meet the demands for sustainable energy and cleaner waste water in rural areas such as Sabah and Sarawak.

“Our success exemplifies the evolution of mentorship into equal partnership in the development of an innovative environmental-friendly Algal Biophotovoltaic Device that integrates bioelectricity generation with bioremediation.”

Professor Siew Moi Phang

Integrating algal biophotovoltaics for bioelectricity production with agro-industrial wastewater remediation using tropical algae 

Project leads: Dr Adrian Fisher, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, UK and Professor Siew Moi Phang, Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, Malaysia

Delivery partners: British Council and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology