| Adnan Jahaya |
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – While flood victims had to bear with the mud left behind by the receding flood waters, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) not only wants to identify the origins of the mud but also its economic potential.
UniMAP’s Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kamarudin Hussin noted that being an engineering and research based university, UniMAP wants to study how the mud could be turned into something beneficial.
Before this, the university had helped the Sidoarjo district in Indonesia to address the woes caused by the mudflow from underground known as ‘ Lusi”.
The hot flowing mud suddenly appeared on the surface on May 29, 2006, causing extensive damage to properties in the district and the mud flows out of the earth’s crust till today.
The sludge submerged villages, factory buildings, houses, public amenities and even farmlands causing tremendous economic loss in East Jawa.
UniMAP has made use of its expertise in the geopolimer technology to study on the Lusi’s economic potential with an Indonesian university, Petra Christian University (PCU), after conducting preliminary studies in 2011.
Through the cooperation with PCU’s civil engineering department, UniMAP developed construction material from dried ‘Lusi’ using geopolymer technology.
The research outcome indicated that the mud could be used to make bricks, artificial aggregates and other light construction material with all the material showing similar characteristics like seen in the existing construction material.
Like Lusi, the sludge’s potential would be studied by UniMAP’s Geopolymer and Green Technology Centre (CEGeoTech).
The university in fact has started preliminary studies at the CEGeoTech using the mud samples taken from flood locations.
Kamarudin who is also a geopolymer researcher noted that initial findings indicate the mud is made up of fine dirt particles that has the potential to be developed.
The mud can be used to make bricks, geopolymer concrete, artificial aggregate and even ceramic compound.
According to Kamarudin, the construction material made using the geopolymer method were more environment friendly as they did not require high heat to make them.
Instead, he said, the main components in the mud like silica and aluminum could be activated using ‘sodium silicate’ to manufacture the construction material.
Meanwhile, UniMAP deployed about 2,000 of its own volunteers made up of undergraduates and staff to help clean up the areas affected by floods in Kelantan.
“The mud covering extensive areas affected by floods has polluted the ecosystem and blighted the view of the landscape,” he said to Bernama.
The group was part of the 17,000 volunteers from higher education institutions from all over the nation who waded through the mud to help clean up settlements.
UniMAP also helped by providing medical and counseling services to help alleviate the trauma that the flood victims faced.
Apart from studying the mud, UniMAP also deployed the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to get a bird’s eye view of the effects of the flood in Tumpat, Kelantan.
Kamarudin noted that UniMAP would also look into developing technologies based on the UAV and sensors in helping to detect floods early.
“This is the best opportunity for us to test and use the existing technology at UniMAP to assist the nation and community in addressing the flood woes,” he said.
UniMAP through the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (COEUAS) will also utilise the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) technology to ascertain the terrain in the areas vulnerable to flooding.
“Based on the available data, we will be able to know where the water is flowing from and contributing to devastating floods,” he said.
The study, will be carried out in conjunction with several leading companies like the EMT German, Drei Sohne Technologies (Deutchland) Sdn Bhd (DST) and Aerial Imaging Sdn Bhd.
Apart from that, Kamarudin hoped that the researchers would develop a technology that would enable flood victims save their belongings by placing them on floating jackets or waterproof packaging.
Through these techniques, important items could be salvaged.
During the recent flood episode from the end of 2014 to early 2015 the flood victims had to bear with heavy losses. Many not only lost their belongings but also their homes that were washed away by flood waters. Many of their belongings were damaged by the mud as well.
Housewife Siti Khadijah Mohd Nor, 48 from Kuala Krai, Kelantan is among the many whose house was washed away.
All that was left after the water receded was mud where once her house stood.