23/02/2024 09:48 AM
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By Assoc Prof Dr Nahrizul Adib Kadri

The Malaysian water industry has faced significant financial challenges, with 13 consecutive years of losses attributed to high operating costs, particularly in energy.

Traditional water distribution processes, reliance on electrical pumps and gravitational water flow have presented inefficiencies and put a strain on water operators, leading to operational and financial burdens.

However, a beacon of hope has emerged in the form of the Super Butterfly (SB) in-pipe hydropower system, a groundbreaking innovation designed to reshape the landscape of water management and energy sustainability.

The SB system harnesses the excess water pressure in pipes to generate electricity without disrupting water demand.

Dr Iswadi Jauhari of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Universiti Malaya spearheaded this transformative technology, with ongoing research backed by a substantial grant of more than RM2 million.

The system’s innovative design offers a multipronged approach to accommodate varying water flow rates while ensuring optimal power generation, an essential feature for addressing the inconsistent water pressure throughout water supply pipelines.

One of the remarkable aspects of the SB system is its potential to leverage the generated energy for off-grid consumption or to sell it back to utilities through on-grid connections.

This not only addresses the financial sustainability of water operators but also significantly reduces their carbon footprint, making it an attractive and profitable solution for the industry.

Anticipated commercialisation by early 2025

Collaborative efforts with the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and Malaysia’s largest water company, Air Selangor, have yielded successful real-field testing, paving the way for anticipated commercialisation by early 2025.

The implications of this innovation are far-reaching, offering a glimpse into a more sustainable and efficient future for water management.

Asset owners of water piping networks stand to benefit greatly from the SB system as it opens up new possibilities for revenue generation while contributing to environmental conservation.

By effectively harnessing excess water pressure, a previously wasted resource, the SB system represents a paradigm shift in energy sustainability within the water sector.

As we stand at the brink of this change, the emergence of the Super Butterfly in-pipe hydropower system signifies a new era in water infrastructure.

With ongoing research, collaboration, and a commitment to innovation, the water sector is poised to embrace a more financially robust, environmentally conscious and operationally efficient future.


Assoc Prof Dr Nahrizul Adib Kadri is with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)