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Dr Andrew Benedek
LEE KUAN YEW WATER PRIZE 2008
Citation for Dr Andrew Benedek
Dr Andrew Benedek was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2008 for his outstanding work in pioneering the development of low-pressure membranes in water treatment. This dedicated researcher and successful technopreneur has redefined the way water can be treated. He has shown how drinking water can be produced from different water sources, even those that are highly polluted. It is a big leap that benefits mankind, both for those in developed and developing countries.
Dr Andrew Benedek was the man who revolutionised conventional water treatment. As a result of his pioneering work in membranes, he showed how water can be treated to drinking standards, even those that come from highly polluted sources. In countries such as Belgium, Canada and the United States, this has allowed water of poor quality to be treated to drinking standards. Singapore is also leveraging on membrane technology to treat water from highly urbanised areas and even those from industrial areas.
By adopting membranes in water purification, Dr Benedek opened up new possibilities so that even used water can be purified to drinking water standards. Singapore is one of the beneficiaries of this. The development of NEWater was made possible as a result of Dr Benedek's diligent research and pioneering work in membranes. Today, treated used water can be purified to drinking water standards, which opens up a new water source for the world. Reclaimed water is an area that many countries are going into, as it is a sustainable solution to overcome the challenges of Mother Nature.
Dr Benedek's work has also opened up a brand new world in desalination. Previously, drinking water was produced through thermal desalination which has high demands on energy. Now, through the use of low-pressure membranes in the pretreatment stage, desalination has become a more cost-efficient and viable option for many countries. The ease of use and affordability of these membranes have also benefited those in small towns and villages. Portable water treatment units can be assembled to treat water for small communities affordably.
Through Dr Benedek, the world has found a superior low-cost technology for water treatment. With his membrane technology, good quality drinking water can now be produced almost anywhere in the world. Utilities in the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and Singapore have incorporated the use of his membranes in their water treatment processes. Other countries such as China, India and those in the Middle East and South America have followed suit. The wider usage has led to lower prices of membranes which makes it affordable for more countries to adopt it in water treatment as well. To date, more than 15 million cubic metres per day of treatment capacity has been installed and used worldwide and this is growing at the rate of 20% annually.
About Dr Andrew Benedek
Dr Andrew Benedek is the Chairman and CEO for Anaergia Inc. He is actively involved in the development and management of technology related to biogas and other value recovery from waste organics, and has over 30 years of experience in wastewater treatment and breakthrough technology development.
Dr Benedek started out as a Professor in McMaster University, Canada in 1970. In his early research days, he discovered the great potential and benefits of low-pressure membranes that can replace existing water and used water treatment processes. Later, he founded Zenon Environmental Inc, a company that developed and marketed the use of low-pressure membranes, demonstrating its reliability, efficiency and ease of operation. It spawned a market for low-pressure membranes and today, at least five global membrane companies are competing in this lucrative market.
Dr Benedek divested his shares in Zenon in 2006, and became a subsidiary of GE Water & Process Technologies. He continues to be active in water research and in funding water-related R&D projects at universities. His interest has now expanded to include environmental issues in oceanography, climate change and earth sciences. He is also a philanthropist and has led missions bringing the benefits of his membrane technology to developing countries that are in need of clean water and better public health.
Dr Benedek's outstanding innovation in membranes has provided sustainable water solutions to the world. His contribution has benefited humanity and for that, Dr Benedek has the honour of being the first recipient of the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize.
Lecture slides of Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Lecture by Andrew Benedek