Open University and Sino Group Collaborate on Algal Research
Microalgal Treatment Purifies Food Waste, Yields Biofuel

The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) and Sino Group are collaborating on a research project on purification of food waste filtrate with microalgae. The project has attained significant initial results, achieving marked improvement in water quality, reducing carbon emission and providing raw materials that yield biodiesel. This marks an important milestone in the development of local scientific research, environmental protection and green economy.

This is the first project that applies algal treatment to purify food waste filtrate at a shopping mall, and the first environmental scientific research between a local university and a shopping mall. Since April 2014, Olympian City 2 has been supplying collected food waste filtrate to the OUHK research team, who carries out the research in the lab and on-site. The team manages to remove nitrogen, phosphorus and other suspended particles from the food waste filtrate, purifying the wastewater. Further research shows that the microalgae cultivated can be used as the raw materials for producing biofuel, presenting a low-cost yet cleaner alternative for energy production.

Water quality and algae is one of the leading research areas of the School of Science and Technology, the Open University of Hong Kong. Prof. Kin-Chung Ho, Dean of School of Science and Technology at OUHK and a renowned expert in water quality and algae study, leads the research. ‘We are delighted to achieve ground-breaking results for this project. It would largely mitigate the pollution caused by food waste, and also contribute to the research on algae treatment and promotion on environmental education and green industries. This is also a pioneer example of collaboration between a commercial organisation and the academia that seeks to bring significant benefits to our society. The next step is to enhance the sewage treatment efficiency and to upgrade the treatment system. The data collected from the study will become the foundation for future food waste treatment and production of biofuel,’ said Prof. Ho at the media conference on the research project.

Mr Daryl Ng, Executive Director of Sino Group, notes, ‘As a dedicated corporate citizen, we support initiatives that are conducive to the development of youth, education, green and social innovations. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Open University of Hong Kong on the commercial application of the algae treatment, which is the first of its kind, and above all, an innovative and clean solution for food waste management.’

Mr Terence Ng, Associate Director of Sino Property Services, added at the press conference, ‘We support reducing waste at source, and have rolled out food waste recycling programmes to properties such as Pacific Palisades, Hong Kong Gold Coast, Olympian City, tmt plaza and Sino International Plaza in Fuzhou, China. We are heartened by the strong support from residents and tenants with over 204 tonnes of food waste collected. The collaboration with the Open University is a major step forward for food waste management with the conversion of filtrate into resources and all the benefits to the environment.’

The research programme suggests a promising solution on mitigating pollution, developing renewable energy and combating global climate change caused by increased carbon footprints in addition to being a reference for scientific research in the region.