Alternative Water Resources Prize


Dr. Rong Wang & Dr. Anthony G. Fane (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore).

Dr. Wang and Dr. Fane have developed membranes that combine forward osmosis with a reverse osmosis (RO)-like inner selective layer and a novel and previously undiscovered positively charged nanofiltration (NF)-like outer selective layer. This novel structure provides enhanced performance by reducing the effects of scaling and flux losses caused by internal concentration polarization.

These membranes promise to be a key factor for the reduction of the energy required for water treatment by membrane processes.

Winner Profiles

Dr. Rong Wang

Dr. Wang is Professor and Chair of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering; and Director of the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


• Ph.D. 1992; Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chemical Engineering.
• Beng. 1984; Zhejiang University, China, Thermal Engineering.

Selected Awards:

2013: R&D Award of the Singapore Minister for National Development
2011: IDA World Congress Best Paper Presentation Award
2011: “Best Faculty Mentor” in Temasek Foundation-NTU LEaRN Programme
2001: Progress Award of Beijing Science and Technology
1998: Institute of Processing Engineering Best paper Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences
1995: Best Paper, Institute of Processing Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences
1994: Excellent Science & Technology Paper by Beijing Metal Society of China



Dr. Anthony Gordon Fane

Dr. Fane is Visiting Professor at Nanyang Techhnological University, Singapore and Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia.


• Ph.D. & D.I.C. 1968; Imperial College, London.
• BSc 1961; Imperial College, London, Chemical Engineering.

Selected Awards:

2003: European Membrane Society – Honorary life membership
2003: Centenary Medal for Service in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Science
1996: Esso Award of Excellence in Chemical Engineering
1989: Whiffen Medal of the Institution for Chemical Engineers, for Developments in Membrane Technology

Acceptance Speech

Your Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, Your Excellency United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, respected members of the Prize Council, distinguished guests, fellow colleagues, ladies and gentlemen:

Please allow me to express my deepest gratitude to the Prize Council, chaired by His Royal Highness, for the recognition which has been accorded to our work on forward osmosis done at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. My colleague, Dr. Anthony Fane, and I are honoured and privileged to be presented with the Alternative Water Resources Prize by the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water for our work on sustainable water solutions. I also understand that I am the first Chinese female scientist to receive this prize and this is indeed a proud moment for me.

Fresh water is a critical resource which is being depleted at an alarming rate today. Our research is driven by the need for solutions, which are partially technological in nature so as to reduce reliance on inadequate conventional water resources. There is a need for alternatives which are renewable, sustainable and accessible to all. Forward osmosis is an emerging technology which can be one of these solutions because it can lead to water reclamation and recycling at lower energy intensity.

My colleagues and I developed the first thin film composite forward osmosis hollow fibre membrane, and thereafter improved it with anti-scaling and anti-internal concentration polarization capacity to provide enhanced forward osmosis performance. This development has made it possible to combine forward osmosis with existing technologies such as reverse osmosis, membrane bioreactor and membrane distillation, to create novel hybrid membrane systems which allow for the wide-ranging applications of the technology. The intention with such developments is to provide cost-effective and eco-efficient solutions for countries facing high water stress.

Although the technology has been developed in Singapore to address the nation’s water stress, such stress is not unique to Singapore. A report by the World Resource Institute has ranked both Saudi Arabia and Singapore as the top 10 water-stressed countries in the world by 2040. In the context of Singapore, visionary leadership has led to strategic actions which have enabled better water resource management leading to enhanced water security. For example, Singapore's four NEWater plants can meet up to 30% of the nation’s current water needs. By 2060, NEWater is expected to meet as much as 55% of Singapore’s future water demand and NEWater production is membrane-based. Such production facilities have been and will continue to be supported by research and engineering developments. Recognition for such efforts is important to motivate each succeeding generation of research scientists and engineers. The Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water is an excellent example of such recognition. By recognizing science and technology that contribute to sustainable water solutions, it not only helps to motivate researchers to stay committed to their cause but more importantly inspire future generations to champion this cause.

I started my journey to develop the advanced membrane technology for water in 2008 at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC) which is a unit within the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. We formed a multi-disciplinary team to engage in both fundamental and applied membrane research and undertook to translate the research outcomes into real-world products and solutions. We have been receiving financial support from Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB); PUB, Singapore’s national water agency; and the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF). At this special occasion, I would like to thank our students, research colleagues, and local and international collaborators for their technical contributions, and funding agencies for their funding support. This award is also dedicated to our families for their encouragement and unconditional support which has been vital for our professional success.

This is the 7th award of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water over the past 14 years. The spirit behind the Alternative Water Resources Prize is also about human resource investment. No one technology can remain always relevant in the light of the ever-changing demographics, economics and climate. It is only through developing the competencies of young researchers and investing in the next generation of water scientists and engineers can we continuously innovate technologies to ensure we can successfully use alternative water resources to ensure future water security. For this reason, I applaud the efforts of His Royal Highness and the Prize Council in promoting novel membrane technologies and facilitating cutting-edge water research through this prize. I am sure that the success of this very important Water Prize has already inspired the future generation of professionals to continue developing innovative alternative resources to help deliver robust solutions for a water-wise world of tomorrow.

Thank you.
Rong Wang

Winning Work

1. Rong Wanga, Lei Shia, Chuyang Y. Tanga, Shuren Choua, Changquan Qiub, Anthony G. Fane. “Characterization of novel forward osmosis hollow fiber membranes” Journal of Membrane Science, volume 355, issues 1–2 (15 June 2010), pp. 158–167.

2. Shuren Choua, Lei Shia, Rong Wanga, Chuyang Y. Tanga, Changquan Qiub, Anthony G. Fane. “Characteristics and potential applications of a novel forward osmosis hollow fiber membrane” Desalination, volume 261, issue 3 (31 October 2010), pp. 365–372

3. Laurentia Setiawana, Rong Wanga, Kang Lic, Anthony G. Fane. “Fabrication of novel poly(amide–imide) forward osmosis hollow fiber membranes with a positively charged nanofiltration-like selective layer” Journal of Membrane Science, volume 369, issues 1–2 (1 March 2011), pp. 196–205.

4. Shuren Choua, Rong Wanga, Lei Shia, Qianhong Shea, Chuyang Tanga, Anthony Gordon Fane. “Thin-film composite hollow fiber membranes for pressure retarded osmosis (PRO) process with high power density” Journal of Membrane Science, volume 389 (1 February 2012), pp. 25–33.

5. Wangxi Fanga, Rong Wanga, Shuren Choua, Lauren Setiawana, Anthony Gordon Fane. “Composite forward osmosis hollow fiber membranes: Integration of RO- and NF-like selective layers to enhance membrane properties of anti-scaling and antiinternal concentration polarization” Journal of Membrane Science, volumes 394–395 (15 March 2012), pp. 140–150.

Back to all 7th Award Winners