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Workplace safety through wastewater treatment technology

Mei Fong article

Research technology in palm oil mills has made the workplace within a palm oil mill safer and more attractive to workers, including engineers, while creating a sustainable process.

University of Nottingham Malaysia researcher Professor Chong Mei Fong is a Professor working in the field of bioenergy and wastewater treatment technologies. Her technology is well received by the palm oil industry and has encouraged more women to work in this area.

Her research, which is in the field of bioenergy and wastewater treatment technologies in palm oil mills, created a safe workplace which potentially attracted more women and engineers as a whole to work in the palm oil mill. The technology also promotes an efficient alternative to waste water treatment and emits less pollution to the environment and the waterways.

The introduction of her technology earned her an honourable mention at the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women, in conjunction with 7th ASEAN-US Consultation on Science and Technology (COST) meeting on 19 October 2017.

According to Professor Chong: “As a woman engineer, I realised that not only the engineering field is male dominant but this is also the case in oil palm mills, which is my area of research.”

“Workplace safety is no longer a luxury, but a necessity and though women may be more attracted to it, it also attracts a highly qualified workforce.” said Professor Chong, who was also the previous chair of Gender Equality in Nottingham, a working group in the University that advocates gender equality in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

The new bioreactor system which resulted from Professor Chong’s research is done to comply with the Malaysian Environmental Quality Act 1974, which addresses environmental protection and pollution control. “Apart from providing a more conducive and safe workplace, it promotes cleaner water and reduces pollution of rivers,” Professor Chong said.

ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women

Professor Chong was nominated and was awarded with an honourable mention in the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women and won USD5000.  She is the second Malaysian to be nominated for this award, and last year a lecturer from Universiti Teknologi was nominated.

She explains that in July, there was a call for proposals to apply for this award. There were a few criteria; excellence in research; mentoring of other women in STEMM-related subjects and global citizenship.

The theme for 2017 is urbanisation, with subtopics including workplace safety, under which Professor Chong submitted her proposal.

“The new technology also promotes an indoor processing at an office or a lab, instead of what was done previously to process the water outdoors in a space of nine football fields, which is usually located in a plantation,” Professor Chong said.

According to University of Nottingham Malaysia Vice- Provost (Research & Knowledge Exchange): “Professor Chong is not only an excellent researcher, who is demonstrably able to translate her discoveries into commercially viable products valuable to the green technology agenda, but she is also a very strong advocate and role model for women in science, engineering and technology. The University of Nottingham Malaysia is very proud of her achievements.” 

(Article image caption: Professor Chong working on her research)

(Thumbnail image caption: Professor Chong at the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women prizing giving ceremony )

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Notes to Editors: The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the top one per cent in the world. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

More information is available from  Professor Chong Mei Fong, on meifong.chong@nottingham.edu.my or Josephine Dionisappu, PR & Communications Manager on josephine.dionisappu@nottingham.edu.my, +6 (03) 8924 8746.

Posted on 5th December 2017

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