“THIS CONFERENCE IS LIKE A LITTLE PEARL”
From 4 – 6 October 2017 the 3rd International Conference on Microfluidic Handling Systems (MFHS 2017) was held in Enschede, in the picturesque setting of former theatre De Kleine Willem, as a follow-up to the successful first two conferences in Enschede in 2012 and in Freiburg in 2014.
Over 70 participants from 11 countries all over the world and with a 50/50 share between companies and universities came to the conference, which was called “a little pearl” by one of the delegates. The sponsors were very pleased with the diversity of people, many new business opportunities were explored.
Worldwide, accurate handling – i.e. analysis, dosage, measurement and control – of small and extremely small mass flow rates of both gases and liquids is becoming more and more important, driven by numerous applications. In 2020, the market for microfluidic devices is expected to grow to $6 billion, according to Yole. Examples of economically and societally relevant applications are e.g. improvement of medical infusion pump systems, increasing the efficiency of processes that extract oil from oil wells (enhanced oil recovery), systems that measure the energy content (calorific value or Wobbe Index) of natural gas and bio-gas, monitoring of ground water pollution and the production of pharmaceuticals by means of flow chemistry.
Whether in analytical instrumentation, flow chemistry, energy, semiconductor industry, food and beverage or life sciences – microfluidic handling systems are facing four major trends: (1) a need for accurate measurement and calibration facilities; (2) a need for complete functional systems rather than for the individual components; (3) commercialisation of academic research results, and (4) standardisation of fabrication technology & materials, modules & connections, and quality assurance & test equipment. In the future, the impact of this field of research may become bigger and potentially large target markets may arise, especially when spin-off companies start manufacturing and selling their products, systems or pilot plants.
The MFHS 2017 focused mainly on the technology, components, devices and systems that enable the application in microfluidic systems. It provided an excellent opportunity to bring together scientists and engineers from academia, research institutes and companies to present and discuss the latest results in the field of microfluidic handling systems. The conference goals were to stimulate interaction and knowledge exchange between the delegates in a friendly atmosphere. The most recent developments in the field of microfluidic sensors, actuators, interfaces, fluidic control systems and applications have been presented in 5 oral sessions and 1 poster session.
Highlights included the keynote lectures of Jan-Eite Bullema of TNO, about manufacturing microfluidics with 3D printing, Sabeth Verpoorte of RUG, about the need for microfluidic handling systems for organ- and even human-on-a-chip, and Cor van Kruijsdijk of Shell about microfluidic experience and opportunities in Shell, and of course the lively dinner show of theatre group Recirquel with audience participation, which took us back to Paris of the roaring twenties of the 20th century.
Best Oral presentation prices were awarded to Colm Delaney et al. of the Dublin City University (1st), Jan Förster of Krohne et al. (2nd) and Oihane Mitxelana-Iribarren et al. of CEIT (3rd). Best Poster presentation prices were awarded to Ilia Uvarov et al. of the Yaroslavl State University (1st), Geert Besselink et al. of Lionix International (2nd) and Magdalena Malankowska et al. of University of Zaragoza (3rd).
We can look back on a very successful and inspiring conference, and look forward to seeing you at the MFHS 2019 conference!
Prof. Joost Lötters, conference chair