Wiebe de Vos, assistant professor Membrane Surface Science at the University of Twente, will receive an ERC Starting Grant to pursue his groundbreaking research in the field of membrane technology.
The researcher of the Membrane Science & Technology department of MESA+ will receive a grant of 1.5 million Euro from the European Research Council in order to undertake research into new capabilities of in membranes prepared in water and the new processes that become possible as a result.
The next generation of membranes are created without the use of toxic or harmful solvents, but are prepared completely in water. This not only leads to a more environmentally friendly approach, but it also opens the door to new applications. By varying the properties of the water, such as its pH value, and the used materials, new membrane structures and properties can be achieved.
New fields of application are for instance foreseen in the cleaning of waste water, separation of gasses or the desalination of water. "The membranes that we make will show stable performance in organic solvents, which makes it possible to, for example, fractionate light oils", says De Vos.
The ERC Grants are awarded each year by the European Union to researchers who undertake groundbreaking research with a firm base in fundamental research and, at the same time, research with an expected societal relevance. The grant can be used to set up an own research team or programme. Only European researchers who received their PhD a maximum of seven years ago qualify for the grant. There is a strong competition: just ten to fifteen per cent of the applicants for an ERC Starting Grant are successful.
For De Vos, this is the second large research grant for his membrane research within a short period of time. In May, a VIDI grant was announced by NWO, the Dutch national research organization. "It is a great acknowledgement of the quality of our research and has a great impact on our possibilities for the coming years. It will allow us to make significant progress, both regarding fundamental research and application in practice” says de Vos.