1st International Sustainability in Civil Engineering Competition and Exhibition 2021
Date: September 01, 2021 |Published by: MIU | Category: Blogs
Name: Sumitha Kanaisan Department of Civil Engineering
ID.No: 1102181009 Date: 25th August 2021
The pandemic has been a disaster for the entire world population. Be it from the elderlies to the unborn, everyone’s life was in danger. An era where the world was no longer a safe place for child birth and no longer kind for hugs and handshakes. Every profession had a downfall. The aircraft industry shut down, the construction industry was detained and education practices drifted dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning whereby teaching was conducted on digital platforms. From facing whiteboards and having direct communication with our lecturers, we shifted to facing gadgets and waiting for our lecturer’s response through WhatsApp. As a student, although the situation favors me by being able spending more invaluable hours with my family, it was a bumpy ride to keep up with university chores.
After 2 years of face-to-face learning, it was difficult for me to adapt to the new ‘normal’ of e-learning. The challenge was new but I was ready to face it. In the early of June, I was approached by my lecturer, Dr. Deepak, to participate in the 1st International Sustainability in Civil Engineering Competition and Exhibition 2021 organized by SiCEX of University Sains Malaysia (USM) with the theme of the competition being, “ Prevention of Disaster, Towards Zero Flood and Healthy Water Resource for a Better Nation”. It was an online-based competition that was divided into 3 categories being Primary/Secondary School, Local University and International University. Upon a brief discussion with Dr. Deepak, who was assuming the role of our supervisor, I chose to form a partnership with my fellow peers whom were Thanendran, Vasudevan, Nieeshal, and Iswaran. Dr. Deepak had our consent before engaging us with this competition as we were heavy with assignments and upcoming tests. However, we decided to pursue in this new experience regardless of the tasks at hand as we were aware that a golden opportunity such as this is hard to come by and we were privileged to be handpicked for it.
Being our 1st Civil Engineering-themed competition, we were enthusiastic and agitated at the same time as we didn’t know between head and tail. We had our 1st group meeting with our supervisor on the day we teamed up. We were briefed about the requirements and conditions as well as the process of the competition. Our innovation was required to be either be an idea, a product or a prototype. We collectively decided to go with an idea as there will be difficulties in building a prototype or a product given that we were all residing within different states within the country and interstate travelling was allowed at the moment. We compromised to name our team as the Next Gen Sustainable Engineers (NGSE). The inspiration of our project was initiated by Dr. Deepak, which was the construction of a 3rd Generation Coastal Reservoir. Taking upon the role Team Leader, I delegated the tasks to my team members equally. I was head of the Research Work, Thanen was charged with the Poster Presentation, Nieeshal was assigned to discover a suitable study area for our proposal and Vasudevan & Iswaran were held responsible for the designing works.
We were perplexed at the idea of a coastal reservoir at the beginning, as it was something new to us. After researching through various journals, research papers, articles and webinars, we started to understand the topic better and moved into idea generation. The concept behind our ideas is to capture maximum groundwater runoff which is cost saving and water quality as the basic guarantee, is closer to drinking water. In contrast to the plan for on-land catchment runoff, a coastal reservoir harvests catchment runoff in the sea, gets its water from a river and has the capacity to catch all runoff from a catchment area. The idea of a coastal reservoir was initiated to reduce the uptake of valuable land space for the construction of a reservoir. Instead, the reservoir is built at sea which allows for an unlimited supply of water as this concept allows for easier expansion in the future. This reservoir stores fresh water on sea coast area close to the river delta separating saltwater from sea. When flood occurs, the water flowing had low pollution and is almost close to drinking water composition. The gate to the reservoir will be opened and another gate to the sea will be closed until freshwater supply reduces. Once the basin is filled up, the gate to the reservoir will be closed and the gate to the sea will be opened. The depth of the reservoir is deeper than that of the sea. Therefore, sufficient flood water can be stored within the reservoir.
The targeted area to build the reservoir should be situated to areas facing water ambiguities such as frequent water disruptions and areas prone to flooding. Taking these aspects into consideration, we narrowed down our selection to Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and Klang. Considering high water demands due to rapid growth of industry development and increase in population, we believed that Klang was the most relevant area to pertain this concept. Klang has been said to face frequent water disruptions throughout the year and the Klang River is famous for the occurrence of flood during the monsoon season. Hence, Klang was chosen as the study area to build our 3rd Generation Sustainable Coastal Reservoir at a nearby island called Carey Island. The reservoir is designed with pipes connecting to main water treatment plants within Klang to supply water during water disruption. Hence, the flood water stored will be sent back to the affected locations for treatment before catering for public consumption.
Study Area of Project
We moved on with our innovation to the designing phase. Our proposed 3rd Generation Sustainable Coastal Reservoir comes with a Semi-floating theme park, casino and resort that is built partly on land and partly on the reservoir. We decided to go eco-friendly by empowering our project with not just regular solar panels but with floating solar panels that will be found on the surface of the water within the reservoir. We found this to be a very effective method as floating solar panels are proven to be more efficient than regular solar panels. This is due to the cooling effect provided by the water which enhances the performance of the photovoltaic panels by 5-10%. This generates significant cost savings over time. Other potential benefits of utilizing floating solar panels include decreased shading, reduced civil works, reduced grid hookup costs, reduced water evaporation, increased water quality and reduced algal blooming. So, we were sure that implementing floating solar panel as a source for electricity supply will benefit the project tremendously and this concept has not yet been implemented on any coastal reservoirs built.
Sustainability consists of 3 elements which are environment, economy and social. In the economy aspect, as mentioned earlier, our coastal reservoir has an in-built semi floating theme park with a resort over it. The theme park is going to be our revenue generating unit. Klang is known very well for its tourism industry. Hence, the location will be perfect to execute this idea. Since this project costs billions, we thought of an amusement park with a casino as it is the fastest way of generating revenue to cover the expenses of the project. In addition to that, the solar power station will generate more electricity than required. Therefore, the balance electricity can be sold to Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB). This will aid when there is insufficient electricity supply. We needed a revenue generating unit in order to make this project sustainable. On the environmental aspect, we have tackled efficient methods of using floating solar panels and coastal reservoir which saved the valuable land space for flora and fauna. On the social aspect, the life of people living nearby are not threatened by the reservoir built at the coast. Comparing to conventional dams that are built upstream, the occurrence of any damage will result in a big loss of lives as water stored will washout the entire population living nearby. As for coastal reservoirs, the occurrence of any damage will lead the water stored into the sea without causing any harm. This project will also provide an ample job opportunity for employees from various sectors to run the coastal reservoir, resort, casino, theme park treatment plants and solar power station.
We had our idea ready and it took us days to graphically design the project. After going through levels of editing processes, finally, we had our three different layers of generations of our coastal reservoir. For the editing process, we had to meet online almost every night.
Plan View of the Project
Layered View of the Project
Once the design was ready, I prepared the slides for the presentation and Thanen prepared the poster submission. Just when we thought we were all prepared with the presentation and were in the verge of submitting, I realized that we left out the most important criteria required which is costing. We had 24 hours left to complete the costing, re-edit the slides and poster, re-do the video presentation and submit. We worked throughout the night to get the job done with a big helping hand from Dr. Deepak. He managed to guide us with no pressure. He constantly checked on us to see if we were progressing the right way. Thanks to the great team effort and dedication, we managed to complete the entire project within the due date and submitted it on time. Ever since the submission, we had been constantly worrying about the results but we didn’t let that take over our concentration to continue our regular university tasks.
On the 18th of June, the SiCEx community had a virtual exhibition where all the participants work was exhibited on an online platform. We were very proud of ourselves seeing our hardwork and dedication being recognized. Alongside our team was MIU Hydra, another team which came up with the innovation of an Intergrated Modular Stormwater Detaining System. The team consisted of Terrence Ooi Teng Wei, Kiranmayee N.T. Naidu and Myat Thu under the supervision of Ms. Norhidayah. Their project adapts the concept of using porous concrete which is vital in reducing the entire cost of project at its initial. It is used at the pavement and its attributes helps to comply with the EPA Rainwater Act by recharging groundwater to minimize stormwater runoff, absorb rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground. Their main objective is to minimize stormwater runoff by collecting and reusing the stormwater which aids in preventing flood by using recycled pervious concrete pavement in the integrated modular stormwater management system. This method is believed to remove the need for retention ponds, swales and other stormwater management measures. Apart from that, this paving technique promotes more efficient land use. The pervious concrete contains little to no sand, having high content of interconnected voids that drains runoff quickly.
The results of the competition were announced on the 21st of June via Facebook Live. Only the Gold Medal winners were announced during the session. We were eagerly waiting to hear our groups to be called out but it turned out the unexpected way. Both the teams from MIU felt demotivated. Hours after the session ended, they released the overall results and we found MIU Hydra won the Silver Award where as my team won the Bronze Award.
Our supervisors kept us motivated as they made us realize that this was a learning process and there were no regrets to be made. Despite the hassle of online classes, tests, projects, assignments and presentations, we were proud that we managed our time well to produce a good product in the end. A new experience was created as we conducted discussions online. There were some miscommunications as online meetings were not really an ideal platform for an effective discussion but we figured our way out to make it through this project. Although there were many ups and downs during the period of this competition, I was truly grateful for the remarkable experience of leading a team one step closer towards the success of their lives. Of course, my team members also gave their maximum effort and cooperation in producing a satisfying end product. To conclude, the pandemic is not going to stop us from succeeding any further in our career. Every challenge through this path has a valuable lesson behind it.