Kitty Nijmeijer is doing pioneering research on membranes, a kind of super-filter. In 2014, her research was put into practice at the Afsluitdijk in the world’s first blue power plant where the mixing of river and sea water is used to generate sustainable energy. More charged particles (salt ions) are present in salt water than in fresh water. When a membrane is placed between the two, ions are transported and converted into electricity. Membranes can also be used for removing the residues of drugs from water, for recovering valuable substances so that they can be reused and for making bioplastics or biofuels.
“I am very happy and very honored to have won the Academic Society Award,” says Nijmeijer. “Ever since the beginning of my scientific career, I have tried to connect research and society, even when that was not so obvious. This award is therefore a great recognition for me personally and for the research of our group.”
Nijmeijer continues: "I am convinced that we will have to transform our linear economy into a sustainable, circular economy. That is a huge technological and social transition. Only engineers can translate abstract scientific research into concrete applications. By explaining our research in a way that people can understand, I want to show them how beautiful technology is and to convey that virtually everything we use, consume and do is only possible thanks to that technology.”
Professors who distinguish themselves through excellent research and their ability to make the connection between science and society in an appealing way are considered for the KIVI Academic Society Award that is presented annually during the Day of the Engineer, when the Prince Friso Engineer Award is presented to the Engineer of the Year. Previous winners include Nobel laureate Ben Feringa and TU/e professor Maarten Steinbuch.
Source: TU/e Press Team, Photo: Angeline Swinkels