No cold feet during third inaugural lecture about 100% clean water

UT Professor Walter van der Meer is back on Campus and gave his third inaugural lecture.

He previously gave a lecture at the UT in 2008 and one in Delft in 2013. His research into 100% clean water is technically (already) made possible by reverse osmosis membranes. “Whatever its source: fresh water, salt water, saline water, ground water, surface water, or waste water: we can filter everything and only water molecules will pass through." Van der Meer gave his lecture on 15 June 2017.

“I have returned to the University of Twente, because Twente has a large, professional membrane-cluster that matches and enhances my own research. I noticed that right away. When I was asked to give a third inaugural lecture, it made me smile a little. You won't see me getting cold feet any more. The drinking water sector, on the other hand, would do well in terms of progress to finally jump in with both feet.”

This statement by Van der Meer is referring to the fact that the highly conservative drinking water sector is rather reluctant to rapidly innovate or invest. “The progress is a bit slower than one would like. But I would like to make it clear that the Netherlands provides very good drinking water. The water satisfies the requirements of the government as well as the wishes of the customer."

Nevertheless, Van der Meer thinks that we should look at the future more. “Membrane technology makes it possible to create drinking water that is 100% clean in a sustainable manner and at low costs. In the future (well, actually today already), drinking water can be made available with exactly the same chemical composition everywhere in the Netherlands. Water that is free from growth substances, particles or organisms, bacteria and viruses."

Full-flow membrane purification

This purification of substances by so-called full-flow membrane purification uses a reverse osmosis membrane. The process consists of water being pressed through a semi-permeable membrane that only allows water molecules to pass through and filters out dissolved substances. A reverse osmosis filter is often referred to as an RO-device, with RO standing for Reverse Osmosis.

100%-membrane filters

"It would be good if the current treatment facilities could be converted to 100%-membrane filters as soon as possible. This form of purification decreases costs, because by reducing the calcium deposits washing machines, heating systems and boilers will have a longer lifespan and consume less energy. Especially if you consider the high energy costs for heating water, the damage caused by calcium, or the reduced risk of legionella contamination (there is little or no growth potential for legionella bacteria in this water). Of course, drinking water companies and politics play an important role in this. Their vision and co-operation greatly affect the supply of drinking water, spatial planning, the environment, the costs and even our health."

Janneke van den Elshout
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)