Spotlight on: Olivier Patrick Lefebvre
Spotlight on Olivier Patrick Lefebvre
- Hello Olivier, so what brought you to Singapore?
Hi Marc-Antoine, before coming to Singapore, I spent two years in Chennai, India, working on my Ph.D at Anna University, as part of a collaboration with Supagro Montpellier which started in 2005. My research topic was on industrial wastewater treatment with a particular attention on the leather industry. Upon returning to France, I dreamt of going back to Asia to carry on my research in water treatment. And thus, Singapore ended up being my new home: it has been 13 years !
Singapore is a choice because water treatment is paramount for the City-State which is under considerably high hydric stress (equivalent water availability per capita as in the Middle East) and thus is really pushing forward and implementing the latest techniques to treat water. This is really important for me since I can see my research being applied. Have you noticed that we’re in the middle of a dry spell? This is the first year since I have been living here (already 13 years, laugh) that I could see people in trucks with garden hoses watering the plants in my neighborhood!
- Could you explain your research topic(s) in a few words and tell me what types of application(s) do your research activities lead to?
I started as a research fellow at NUS in 2006 and I am currently an assistant professor. My topic is on the electrochemical treatment of “hard-to-treat” used water, mostly from industrial sources. I developed a process to treat this type of refractory and toxic water in my lab and I am currently working on scaling up the process with local companies. Treatment of industrial water is a big issue in Singapore: in 2011, 55% of the water used in the city was for non-domestic purpose and it is expected to reach 70% in 2060. In comparison, the world’s average usage of industrial water represents 20 to 25% of the global water demand. If left untreated, this causes incredible stress on the environment as highlighted recently in a report of the World Bank Group entitled “Quality Unknown: the Invisible Water Crisis”. The problem is the absence of gold standard solutions for refractory industrial water.
- Are you currently collaborating with French and/or Singaporean institutes?
I support franco-singaporean partnership programmes. It starts with student exchanges such as NUS’ French Double Degree Programme, a partner programme of excellence with top French engineering schools. For my research, I am collaborating with a number of French universities (e.g. IMT Atlantique) and I look forward to strengthening these ties through the Merlion programme or other similar opportunities.
- Which scientific field or subject would you like the FrenchLab to address through an event?
I would love to see the French Lab collaborate with French companies during the Singapore International Water Week in July 2020. France has huge assets in the field of water treatment in the form of top global companies such as Veolia and Suez.
- Great Olivier, thank you very much for taking the time to present yourself and your research. See you soon!
Thank you Marc-Antoine!
Credits : Department for Culture, Education and Science, Embassy of France in Singapore