Friday, May 05, 2017

Talk at Bishan Public Library: Finding safe drinking water overseas

The link is now ready! Please click on "Register here!" above to register.
You are required to key in your NRIC. Due to a bug in NLB's system, you can't enter alphabets even though the NRIC field requires 9 letters. Therefore, you can add any 2 extra digits as a walk-around to the bug.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Workshop: Desalination for the future: opportunities and challenges

Figure: Tuaspring Desalination Plant - Singapore's newest and largest
desalination plant as of now

Desalination for the future: opportunities and challenges link

Date and Time

Wed 21 February June 2017
09:00 – 17:00 SGT
To be confirmed


By now, most of us in Singapore would have heard of seawater desalination - its promise of reliable fresh water independent of the whims of climate change or those of a neighbouring country but also its exorbitant costs which necessitates a 30% price hike in tap water.

Desalination is however more than just that. It presents opportunities to those in the right industries providing products, services and training. On the flip side, it also presents challenges in terms of costs, energy needs and environmental conservation. Meanwhile, advances in technology hold the promise of improving desalination many fold in the future.

Join water educator, Chen Ko, for an action packed one-day workshop focused on the opportunities and challenges in seawater desalination.
  1. The morning will kick off with a classroom discussion of the technologies, equipment and issues in desalination.
  2. Chen Ko is a firm believer of blending theory and practice so after lunch, the participants will get to visit a real life seawater desalination plant (Tuaspring) to experience for themselves just how everything works together.
  3. The workshop will close off with a debrief of the day's activities, especially touching on the learning points for all participants.
Participants are guaranteed to walk away with a deeper understanding of what desalination is all about and how it can fit into your work.

  • Overview
  • Water quality monitoring of feed and product
  • Pretreatment of seawater
  • Membrane operations and maintenance
  • Post-treatment of product
  • Disposal issues of unwanted "products"
  • Future of desalination

Anyone with a deep seated interest about the opportunities, challenges and future of desalination, whether you are a teacher/trainer, water contractor, water equipment sales staff, water testing team or simply a concerned member of the public.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Armed for bear: My favourite portable water filters configuration

For today's post, let's move away from serious talk such as national water supply and dive back into water filters.

When I am outside of good old SG where the water (tap or otherwise) cannot be relied upon to be safe (biologically at least), I trust my health on the water treatment that has never failed me (yet) - good old boiling. Boiling is great against microbes and parasites! For good measure, I prefer to get a rolling boil for 3min though some literature quote that 1min is enough.

But let's face it - boiling requires a good source of fuel (e.g. finding dry wood can be a pain after a heavy downpour in the middle of the jungle) and a big enough pot (typically metallic which can another pain to carry along in the bush). This is not to mention that you have wait... for the boiled water to cool down before drinking.

Therefore in cases for which the above conditions do not apply (e.g. no fuel, no pot, need to drink now), I rely on a handy package to treat my water.
  1. I have already introduced the Sawyer Mini filter before. What's not to like about it? It is small and versatile, removes most bacteria and parasites (99.99999% and 99.9999%, respectively) and super high capacity (100 000 gallons!).
  2. To squeeze even more performance out of my Mini, I hook it up to a Platypus Gravityworks Carbon element. Containing granular activated carbon (GAC), it is good to remove odours and taste due to organic compounds and chlorine.

    However, compared to the Mini, this little guy is only rated for 300L capacity, depending on the water quality so expect to replace it long before the Mini. There is also a slight increase in resistance when the 2 are connected together so be prepared to suck or squeeze harder to get drinkable water but it's nothing that cannot be overcome.

    Finally, the most important caveat... it is not designed to remove dangerous substances such as pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, radioisotopes... so if you have a reason to suspect such nasty stuff in your water, forget filtration and look for another water source.
  3. Not forgetting another nasty group of microbes - the viruses. I have posted before about the Steripen and how convenient it is. This guy can now play rear defence to polish whatever nasty bugs not removed by the Mini. Having the Mini in front also serves to remove particulates which may otherwise reduce the effectiveness of the Steripen.
  4. In actual practice, I do not place the Mini as the first man unless the water is exceedingly clear such as in an uphill jungle stream. Either I allow the water to settle first, then draw the supernatant into the Mini or I place a coffee filter before the Mini. This small and cheap accessory will prolong the life of my Mini so that it does not clog up prematurely.
  5. What I love about this setup is I can pack everything into a typical pencil case and I am ready to go. Just to restate a precaution, this setup is NOT omnipotent and does not remove chemical and radiological hazards.
Figure: The Carbon Element MUST BE fixed after the Mini to minimise unwanted bacterial growth on the GAC.

Figure: clearing up the leftover bugs with the Steripen