Curtin Malaysia teams shine at InTEX19

Miri – 9 August 2019 – Three teams comprising academics and students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) bagged two gold and a silver medal for their projects showcased at the recent UNIMAS Innovation and Technology Exposition 2019 (InTEX19) held in Kuching.

Chemical engineering Associate Professor Mubarak Mujawar and chemical engineering student M.H. Nazmi won a gold medal for their project entitled ‘Magnetic Palm Kernel Biochar Potential Route for Heavy Metals and Phenol Removal from Wastewater’.

According to Associate Professor Mubarak, heavy metals such as lead can find their way into wastewater from industrial activities and can be hazardous at high levels. Unlike organic compounds, lead is non-biodegradable and must be removed from water as it could become a serious threat to public health.

He said researchers have for decades been developing high-efficiency and cost-effective adsorbents for lead removal, such as metal oxides, modified activated carbons, resins and gels. Associate Professor Mubarak and team’s novel solution, meanwhile, explores using biomass derived from oil palm solid waste as an alternative adsorbent. They have found that by introducing magnetic biochar to a commercial sorbent through chemical co-precipitation, the sorbent can be effectively separated by magnetic separation methods.

Also winning a gold medal was a project entitled ‘Novel Secure Time-based QR Smart Lock System Framework’ by electrical and computer engineering senior lecturer Dr. Wong Wei Kitt, lecturer Dr. Filbert Hilman Juwono and electrical and computer engineering postgraduate student Basil Andy Lease.

Their innovative concept involves providing a secure e-access that could be an enabler for various applications such as a secure time-encripted ‘OTP-QR’-based digital key smart lock system and a novel encripted scanning method to configure smart locks for temporal pass, check-in, check-out and other smart feature configuration settings.

Winning a silver medal were chemical engineering lecturer Dr. Tan Yie Hua, Associate Professor Mubarak Mujawar and chemical engineering student Ray Vern Quah for their project on ‘Biodiesel Synthesis using Magnetic Biochar Catalyst’.

Dr. Tan said the team has discovered that magnetic biochar heterogeneous catalysts provide an alternative and simpler way to separate the catalyst from a biodiesel mixture by using an electromagnetic field. It does not require a huge amount of energy and thus can be very cost-effective and efficient.

InTEX19 was organised by the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Centre (RIEC) at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) as part of the university’s ongoing research and innovation initiatives.

Carrying the theme ‘Research-Driven Innovation and Technology’, the exposition gave inventors, researchers and designers the opportunity to exhibit their inventions, designs, prototypes and products to potential investors, manufacturers, distributors and marketers seeking new ideas.

It also gave academics and students of higher learning institutions a platform to showcase their research outcomes emanating from their research studies or other interdisciplinary research and development.

Participants were segregated into four main research clusters, namely Pure Sciences, Information & Communication Technology, Technology & Engineering, and Social Science & Humanities.

More than 250 different projects and products were showcased during the two-day event. The projects were showcased through posters and prototypes and judged by a panel of judges from industry and academia according to five criteria: degree of originality, novelty, creativity and innovativeness; contribution to new knowledge and decision-making; potential for commercialisation and social impact of research findings; clarity of posters; and oral presentation.

Curtin Malaysia’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski said he was pleased that Curtin Malaysia was given the opportunity to participate in InTEX19 and to have done so well in the project showcases.

Curtin Malaysia participated as an event partner and exhibitor at the invitation of UNIMAS, with which it has had a longstanding formal partnership since 2013. A delegation from UNIMAS headed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Dato’ Mohamad Kadim Suaidi, which included RIEC Director Professor Lo May Chiun among others, extended a formal invitation when they visited Curtin Malaysia last March.

(L-R) Dr Filbert Hilman Juwono, Basil Andy Lease, Dr Wong Wei Kitt, Associate Professor Mubarak Mujawar and Dr Tan Yie Hua.

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