ZENG Qian (left) and XUE Weiqi (right)  

BX Alumnus Xue Weiqi is currently a PhD candidate at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).  His company, INNOWAT Limited, was set up last year to help wastewater treatment plants produce sulfated polysaccharides (a valuable and widely used industrial feedstock) so that they can generate profit and reduce pollution at the same time.  “Creating economic profit to compensate for operational costs during wastewater treatment is promising and important, especially for developing countries.  The saved money can be used for the extension and upgradation of plants to improve the water quality,” explains Weiqi.

Through his AFLSP experience, Weiqi not only earned a degree in environmental engineering but also gained a broader perspective of water pollution issues in East Asia.  “I think more cross-border collaboration and efforts are needed to control the problem in an economical way.  Sacrificing our environment to achieve economic development is not sustainable,” he says.

Since early this year, Weiqi, along with his business partner and COO, Zeng Qian (also an Bai Xian Scholar from HKUST), has been busy working with wastewater treatment plants in Mainland China and preparing the equipment for large-scale operations.  While Weiqi develops technologies for extraction, purification, and equipment scale-up, Qian works on technologies to manage the pre- and post-treatment of sludge.  “I aim to install my equipment in five plants and achieve an annual production of 2000 tons of industrial sulfated polysaccharides (equivalent to a market value of US$ 5.5 million) by 2023.  My goal is to advance the wastewater treatment industry not only by developing new technology, but also by adding economic value,” says Weiqi.