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The membrane scientist striving for a cleaner future


Wed, 04/12/2023 - 12:00


Dr Goh Keng Siang develops organic solvent nanofiltration (OSN) membranes, which reduce carbon emissions and energy costs in chemical separation and purification for products such as vegetable oils and medicine. He tells SGInnovate how his work at startup SepPure Technologies (SEPPURE), whose game-changing chemical filtration technology that does not require heat, helps promote sustainability.

What led you to what you do today?

I have a personal interest in the environment. I remember watching documentaries on National Geographic about dolphins and penguins when I was younger. It inspired me to protect the environment as I grew older. I try to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible and don’t waste food or buy electronics often. It’s not extreme but I do what I can.

Fuelled by this passion to save the earth, I pursued an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where I did research on membrane-based biofilm. My undergraduate professor then offered me a PhD project at NTU focusing on membranes and suggested OSN because it is a relatively new topic. 

Over the course of my research, my interest in the topic continued to grow because I realised a lot of information on OSN has yet to be discovered. It is also environmentally friendly. The benefit of using membranes instead of other methods, such as distillation, lies in the amount of energy saved because a lot of energy is typically used in chemical separation. 

After my PhD, I met my current CEO, Dr Mohammad H. D. A. Farahani, at a conference. Through our conversation, I realised this was what I wanted to do because there was more in this field I wanted to address.