With the world undergoing rapid urbanization, the demand for water has skyrocketed in recent years, making water scarcity an urgent issue requiring our immediate attention. The problem is exacerbated by the rampant and severe pollution of water environments, which has led to the increasing inaccessibility of water. In order to meet the surging demand for water and reduce water pollution, China has been rapidly boosting its municipal wastewater treatment capacity. But conventional Wastewater Treatment Plants not only consume too much energy, they also produce huge quantities of excess sludge. Meanwhile, fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce in mainland China and Hong Kong due to their geographic limitations. Much of the solid wastes produced every day in mainland China and Hong Kong end up in landfills which are filling up fast. All these problems have become bottlenecks in the social and economic development of mainland China and Hong Kong. The situation is set to deteriorate in the next decade, with risks of seriously affecting the living conditions for everyone concerned.
In 2015, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China approved the establishment of the Hong Kong Branch of Chinese National Engineering Research Center (CNERC, 國家工程技術研究中心)
for Control and Treatment of Heavy Metal Pollution (the Branch for short) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST, 香港科技大學)
. The Branch seeks to address the increasing national demand for clean water supply by conducting research on economic and sustainable alternative water resources, energy-saving sewage treatment schemes and optimization of water systems.
The Branch gathers more than 20 water-related experts, professors, and engineers from Hong Kong, mainland China and abroad with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds to research and develop novel technologies for industry adoption. The main focus is on exploring alternative water resources and applying municipal and industrial wastewater treatment in coastal regions. Novel energy-efficient water technologies will be developed.
Leveraging Hong Kong’s geological advantage, the Branch is based in Hong Kong but provides services for the nation and the world. It not only provides the best water technologies for Hong Kong and mainland China, but also enhances technological exchange and collaboration among local, mainland China and overseas professionals.
Ultimately, the Branch will develop into a comprehensive service platform offering various services, including information collection and analysis, research and development, engineering design, and plant construction and operation.