PUB: Singapore's National Water Agency


Real-time Identification of Prohibited Organic Compounds in Sewers

How might we identify and quantify the presence of specific prohibited organic compounds in wastewater for timely intervention?
Submission Deadline
up to SG$250,000


The presence of prohibited organic compounds in wastewater may affect health and safety of workers maintaining our public sewerage system as well as the treatment processes of downstream used water treatment plants.

These compounds are prohibited under the First Schedule of the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulation [SD(TE)R] and are already being monitored routinely by PUB. However, many prohibited organic compounds cannot be rapidly detected, identified and quantified using existing available detection systems like the Photoionisation Detectors (PID) currently in use.

PUB is interested in acquiring systems and/or sensors that can identify prohibited organic compounds individually or as groups (e.g. functional groups). Such sensors and measuring devices would be deployed at the sewers and potentially even at industrial premises to closely and efficiently monitor, identify and facilitate source tracing of an illegal discharge. 

The solution would ideally be able to detect, identify and quantify, through direct measurement or through indirect methods, the entire range of 30 prohibited organic compounds stipulated in the First Schedule of the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulation [SD(TE)R]. We wish to understand from innovators the detection effectiveness and cost implications of such a solution to consider practical adjustments to its specifications. 

To supplement the above, PUB is also interested to detect the following compounds:

  • Acetone
  • N-cyclohexyl-pyrrolidone
  • N,N-Dimethylacetamide (DMAc)
  • Cyclopentanone
  • Dibutyl Phthalate, and
  • Octadencenamide / Oleamide

Challenge Owner: Water Reclamation (Network) Department, Discharge Quality Branch

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Key Considerations & Challenges

  • The proposed solution must be able to differentiate and identify individual or groups of compounds within the list of prohibited organic compounds
  • The following is the sewerage condition that the solution must be able to cater for:
         ○  Mixture of compounds present, either as liquid or gaseous state
         ○  High levels of total suspended solids
         ○  Presence of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
         ○  Poor sanitation issues, e.g. smell
  • The solution would ideally be able to detect prohibited organic compounds at concentrations of 1ppm or lower, depending on the location they are installed.
  • If the detection cannot be done continuously, the solution should carry out detection or sampling at intervals of not more than 5 minutes.
  • The solution would ideally be able to detect the compounds when present in the wastewater (i.e. in liquid state) rather than detecting the compounds from the air space above the wastewater. If pre-treatment is required for the solution, it should be included as part of the provided system, with details indicated in the proposal.
  • The operation of the solution should be automated and unmanned with low maintenance
  • The maintenance frequency of the solution would ideally be once every quarterly or less.
  • The solution would ideally have low power requirements, but power sources of up to 500W could be made available if needed.
  • The solution would ideally have a footprint of less than 1m2.
  • The solution would be deployed at sewers, at a depth of up to 15m. The solution would monitor mixed trade effluent from a cluster of 15 to 50 industrial premises, or the effluent directly from an industrial premise.
  • PUB is open to solutions that analyse the extracted samples outside the sewer. For such a set-up, your proposal should include details of the sample extraction process.
  • Cost is a consideration, as low-cost sensors would allow PUB to deploy them more widely.
  • Solutions that do not rely on a direct method of detecting prohibited organic compounds but instead achieves the same level of sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of a sensor may be considered if the solution can demonstrate an equivalent level of performance.
  • A proposal for system integration is not necessary at the current stage, but PUB is interested to understand what you have considered.

Current Technology Status

Existing Photoionisation Detectors (PID)

  • Can only measure the total VOC in its gaseous state. Semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are not detectable.
  • Unable to identify any of the 30 prohibited organic compounds individually.


After selection

  • Sample effluent for controlled testing
  • PUB sewers as test sites

Expected Timeline

Total project period: less than 18 months
Solution development and deployment: up to 9 months
Solution testing and data analysis: up to 6 months

Expected Outcomes

A prototype sensor or equivalent system, validated in simulated environments, is demonstrated to be effective for detection and quantification of some or all of the prohibited organic compounds. If proven to be effective, the prototype system will be further validated in test sewer sites to determine the detection effectiveness under real operating conditions. If the pilot is successful, the solution would be provided to PUB through a leasing model.

Funding & Benefits


In order to support companies with innovative solutions to collaborate with PUB, we have lined up pilot funding, mentors, data, test sites, and other resources to support pilot projects.


Pilot Funding

PUB is committed to providing funding support to help cover the costs of development and test-bedding. This includes manpower, equipment and material costs. Shortlisted companies will receive initial funding of up to SG$250,000 for each pilot project.

Where the company already has basic technological components of the prototype or even a ready solution, the funding can be used to refine the solution based on the site requirements. The solution shall be developed to have systems and processes in place to support actual operations. By the end of the project, a system or process demonstration is carried out in an operational environment.

Where the company needs to perform activities involving design, development and controlled testing of technological components, the funding can be used for hardware and other development and testing. By the end of the prototyping phase, basic technological components shall be integrated to establish that they will work together. The resulting prototype is expected to have relatively “low fidelity” in comparison with the eventual system.

More information on the pilot requirements for each challenge is provided under Challe​nges​.

Upon being selected for funding through the PUB Global Innovation Challenge, companies can submit their funding request along with a detailed pilot proposal. The proposal and funding request will then be reviewed by PUB’s Project Evaluation Panel. More than one company per challenge could eventually receive the funding.

The awardees will be required to propose a payment schedule based on significant milestones, so that payment can be made progressively throughout the pilot project upon attainment of each milestone.

If the pilot project proves to be successful, the awardee will have access to additional funding for further development and testing, or contracts for deployment of the solution.

Mentorship by PUB Experts

If selected for the Pilot Phase, companies will be matched to relevant department(s) and receive mentorship from PUB’s experts. The companies will be able to leverage on their insights and past learnings to accelerate the development of their solution(s) for the water industry.

Test-bedding opportunities

For each of the challenges, PUB has prepared test sites, data and other internal resources so that solutions can be tested under real conditions and demonstrate valid results.

Commercialisation of Opportunities

If the pilot proves successful, PUB is best positioned to help commercialise and scale the product. The Singapore Water Exchange, which is run by PUB, houses entrepreneurs, startups, investors, accelerators, incubators, market advisors, technology providers, equipment suppliers, research institutes, system integrators and associations to support R&D and help companies build capabilities.

Terms & Conditions

PUB Global Innovation Challenge (the “Programme”) is organised by Public Utilities Board (“PUB”) Singapore and Padang & Co Pte Ltd, UEN No.: 201406957G (“Padang”) henceforth collectively known as “the Organisers”

​These Terms and Conditions (“T&C”) govern the Programme. Participation in the Programme constitutes acceptance of these Terms and Conditions as may be amended by the Organisers when required at the Organisers’ sole discretion.


“Deliverables”: jointly refers to the Application Questionnaire and the Application Deck.
“Participant”: refers to any company registered in accordance with the T&C who takes part in the Programme.


2.1. Participation in this Programme is free.
2.2. By participating in the Programme, the Participant will have read these T&C, and fully accepted their terms in their entirety without reservation.
2.3. Any Participant who does not abide by the terms of the T&C at any time during the Programme will be automatically disqualified from the Programme.


3.1. To apply for the Programme, the Participant must fill in a questionnaire (“Application Questionnaire”) on the Website on or before the 2359 hours Singapore time on 31 August 2021. (“Deadline”)
3.2. Any Application Questionnaire containing incomplete information will not be accepted as an application entry.
3.3. The Participant agrees to be contacted through email sent by the Organisers during their participation in the Programme. The Participant also agrees to be contacted by phone.


4.1. Deliverables must be sent in the requested format and be written in English. For the proposal, it must be submitted in DOC, DOCX or PDF format.
4.2. In case of difficulties or an inability to read the Deliverables, the relevant Participant will be notified and have the responsibility to re-submit it within 12 hours of the notification being sent out by the Organisers.
4.3. Each Participant undertakes that the content of the Deliverables, and any other additional document submitted for the purpose of the Programme, is produced by itself. If it is found that the content has been plagiarized, the Participant will be disqualified.
4.4. The use of photos or images must be free of copyright. In any case, the Organisers will not be held responsible for the use of documents on which third parties have rights.


5.1. After the Deadline, PUB will evaluate Participants based on their Deliverables and shortlisted Participants will be invited to a pitch interview. Based on the interview outcomes, companies will be nominated for pilot funding (“Nominees”).
5.2. The Nominees may be awarded up to S$250,000 of funding.
5.3. The Nominees or approved funding is not transferable, and their sale or exchange is forbidden.
5.4. The Nominees will be required to submit a detailed project proposal using the template provided by PUB, which includes a breakdown of the project cost and justification for the funding required from PUB. The proposal and fund request will then be subjected to review and approval by PUB’s Project Evaluation Panel. The Panel will also determine the final amount of approved funding. More than 1 Nominee per challenge could eventually receive the funding.
5.5. Components/items allowable for funding and disbursement of approved funds are subjected to PUB’s prevailing terms and conditions. In general, disbursement of the funding amount shall be based on the completion of project milestones, which shall be determined with and approved by PUB.
5.6. If the pilot is successful, additional funding/contracts could be provided to deploy and scale-up the implementation of the solutions.
5.7 The Participant is responsible for the payment of any applicable statutory taxes, including withholding tax, for work done in Singapore. Where withholding tax applies, the Organisers will withhold a percentage of the payment for manpower for remittance to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). For more information on withholding tax, please refer to this link:


6.1 By participating in this Programme, the Participant has consented to the disclosure of the Deliverables to the Organisers and persons associated with the Programme, and to the publication of information relating to the Deliverables on various media platforms, including social media platforms.
6.2 The Participant warrants that any and all of the copyright, patents, trademarks, design rights, know-how, and other intellectual property and proprietary rights subsisting in or used in connection with the Deliverables (“Intellectual Property Rights”) is and remain the sole property of the Participant.
6.3 The Participant shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Organisers against any and all claims, suits, losses, damages, costs, fees, and expenses arising out of or in connection with the Intellectual Property Rights.
6.4 Nothing in these T&C constitute a license of the Intellectual Property Rights by the Participant to any of the Organisers.


7.1. The Participant authorizes the Organisers to reproduce their trademark and their registered business names free of charge on communication materials about the Programme, including, but not limited, to websites, email signatures, newsletters, press releases, posters or banners at trade fairs, and on various social media platforms.
7.2 The Participant agrees and consents to public disclosure and use of their company members’ name, image, audio, and video recording for publicity purposes without payment or compensation.

Article 8 – LIABILITY

8.1. The Organisers shall not be liable to the Participant for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred or suffered by the Participant howsoever arising in connection with the Participant’s participation in the Programme, whether virtually via the website, or physically in person, and including but not limited to the disclosure and publication of the Deliverables in connection with the Programme.


9.1. Where the Participant has disclosed to the Organisers personal data of her/himself (where the Participant is a natural person) or of his representatives (where the Participant is a corporate entity), the Participant hereby gives his own consent, and confirms that he has obtained from such persons their consent to the collection, use and disclosure by the Organisers of such personal data, for example, as mentioned in Article 3.


10.1 The Organisers reserve the right to modify the T&C at any time, without prior notification to the Participant. The Participant is invited to read the T&C, which are published on the Website, on a regular basis.


11.1 The Organisers reserve the right to cancel, shorten, and suspend the Programme without prior notice.


12.1 Except with the written consent of the Organisers, the Participant shall not disclose any information issued or furnished by or on behalf of the Organisers in connection therewith to any person.
12.2 In addition to the foregoing, the Participant shall not make use of any information obtained directly or indirectly from the Organisers or compiled or generated by the Participant in the course of the Programme which pertains to or is derived from such information, other than use for the purposes of this Programme, without the prior written consent of the Organisers.


​ 13.1 The Organisers will disqualify the Participant if the Participant shall have offered or given or agreed to give to the Organiser or any person any gift or consideration of any kind as an inducement or reward for their participation in the Programme.


​​​14.1 These T&C are governed by and construed in accordance with Singapore law. The Organisers and the Participant submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Singapore courts.



Challenge Timeline

June 29, 2021, 6 a.m. PDT
July 22, 2021, 5:09 p.m. PDT
Date Launched
Aug. 31, 2021, 8:59 a.m. PDT
Submission Deadline
July 24, 2024, 1:41 a.m. PDT
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