Smart mosquito traps to go on trial at the end of this year: NEA

LOUISA TANG Today Online 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE — Mosquito traps with sensors that can help identify the species and gender of a mosquito will go on trial at residential estates at the end of this year, potentially reducing the manpower needed to check the devices.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) showcased a prototype of the Smart Gravitrap at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore on Sunday (July 8). The sensors capture information on how the mosquitoes fly and transmit the data to a back-end server with a database containing signatures unique to each gender and species of mosquito.

Gravitraps, which are black cylindrical containers with sticky surfaces that trap female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes looking for water surfaces to lay their eggs, have been in use for several years and about 50,000 have been deployed islandwide in the fight against dengue fever.

NEA officers inspect each trap every one to two weeks, but they will not have to do so for the Smart Gravitrap.

The NEA’s Environmental Health Institute developed the prototype in collaboration with local start-up Orinno Technology. It completed laboratory testing in March and found that the Smart Gravitrap could accurately count the number of mosquitoes trapped, as well as identify the species and gender to a “good level of accuracy”.

Data captured by Smart Gravitraps. Photo: Jason Quah/ TODAY

About 10 Smart Gravitraps will be used in the six-month trial at residential estates at the end of this year, through which the design of the devices will be refined.

“It will enhance the surveillance of mosquito population and spread of mosquitoes in Singapore, and help in our analysis of dengue prevention,” said NEA’s chief technology officer Patrick Pang.

Also showcased at the summit were shape-shifting cleaning robots developed by a team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The team, led by Assistant Professor Mohan Rajesh Elara from the university’s engineering product development department, came up with about 12 different robots that can clean staircases, collect samples from drains and clean windows.

Some of the robots are able to attach themselves to one another and change configurations to get into tight spaces, which current-day vacuum cleaning robots are unable to do, said Asst Prof Mohan.

One of the prototypes — inspired by the Tetris video game — can be configured in seven ways, depending on the furniture it has to work around in order to clean the floor.

The prototypes are currently on trial at various parts of the SUTD campus, such as in food courts and drains.

The team will work with the NEA to conduct trials outside the university in the next one to two years.

Meanwhile, three researchers from Singapore Polytechnic (SP) have developed a way to recycle more than 90 per cent of solar photovoltaic panels.

The rapid adoption of solar power worldwide has raised questions on what happens to solar panels after their useful life, which is typically about 20 to 25 years. In 2016, the Asia-Pacific region became the largest solar-powered region in the world.

Currently, just half of photovoltaic panel materials are recycled, and valuable materials such as silver and aluminium may end up in landfills.

The waste generated when solar panels are discarded must be reduced, said SP research scientist Thong Ya Xuan, whose team is able to reclaim the tempered glass, copper ribbons, silicon wafers, aluminium compounds and silver from the panels.

Currently, it takes at least two people about two to three days to manually dissemble a full-sized panel for recycling, said Dr Thong. Her team aims to streamline and automate the process and recycle up to 100 panels a day.

The researchers are now exploring partnerships with several companies and government agencies to co-fund and build a demo photovoltaic recycling plant at the polytechnic.