UTS FEIT recently hosted a senior delegation from the College of Science and Technology (CST) of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) as part of a joint project to improve the quality of onsite sanitation in the urban areas of Bhutan.
FEIT academics led by Dr. Sherub Phuntsho and Professor Hokyong Shon from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, are currently undertaking a research project to develop a compact onsite household wastewater treatment system suitable for urban Bhutan. Started in mid 2016, this project is a three-year collaboration between academics from UTS and CST, funded by the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation. The CST is the only engineering college in Bhutan and this project aims to tackle environmental problems in Bhutan while at the same time developing its academic and research capacity through strategic collaborations.
“Providing public wastewater management infrastructures to all the rapidly growing urban centres in Bhutan is a big challenge and onsite sanitation plays a significant role in reducing wastewater discharge. Bhutan is working on putting improved systems in place for onsite sanitation”, said Dr. Phuntsho.
“One of features of this project is the use of plastic waste materials as a novel biofilter medium for the onsite treatment of domestic wastewater produced from urban households. Plastic wastes, particularly plastic bottles, are causing a huge environmental program in Bhutan as Bhutan currently lacks in-country plastic recycling industry. So this project not only closes the gap in plastic recycling issues in Bhutan but also addresses the pollution issues from the discharge of untreated wastewater from the urban settlements” said Dr. Phuntsho.
Sherub, as the lead academic of this project, also supervises Mr. Ugyen Dorji as a PhD candidate from CST. Currently based at UTS, Ugyen will return to Bhutan towards the end of 2018 to conduct a pilot-scale demonstration of the wastewater treatment technology to the local population.
The RUB’s Strategic Plan sets out its aim to enhance the quality of education and educational sustainability for the country, and to be the “centre of excellence for higher education” in Bhutan. Since 2016, FEIT has established ever-stronger linkages with RUB through increased academic and research engagement. UTS looks to develop further linkages in Master/PhD course development, joint research funding and academic and research collaborations.
During the week long visit, the delegation met with UTS academics.
“This visit was an opportunity for us to explore and expand collaborations in many other areas with UTS. Although CST is a relatively new college, being the only engineering degree college in Bhutan, our mandates are big. Our partnership with UTS could therefore play a significant role in our journey towards academic and research excellence,” said Dr. Cheki Dorji, President of CST, who led the three-member delegation to UTS.