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Volume 3, 2014

Water forms the common thread in Enver Güler’s research. In Turkey, he extracted heavy metals from water. In Israel, he worked on the production of drinking water from seawater (reverse osmosis technology). And in Twente, he generated energy from seawater and river water.

Blue energy
Many MESA+ staff and students can’t keep out of the cleanrooms, but not Güler: “I make membranes that have an active area of approximately ten centimetres by ten centimetres. We work with polymers. An ordinary chemistry laboratory is quite suitable for this. Luckily we have one here too.” Güler then stacks the membranes on top of one another. First a membrane that only lets through positively charged particles, then a membrane that only lets through negatively charged particles, then positive, then negative, and so on. Finally a stack of membranes is created along which researchers pump salt water and fresh water. The scientists generate energy by means of the principle of reverse electrodialysis: energy from water. It is sometimes also referred to as blue energy.

Afsluitdijk pilot plant

Membranes that extract energy from water already exist, but they are expensive and do not work well for Güler’s application. The researcher therefore developed a membrane that is more effective and can be made in one step, making it less expensive than the membranes that are currently available commercially. “Partly as a result of my research, a pilot plant is being built on the Afsluitdijk causeway where we can test my membranes on an industrial scale. It is the first time that the membranes from Twente are undergoing large-scale tests.”

Collaboration with industry
Güler’s research is being conducted in close cooperation with Wetsus. This is the top technological institute for water technology where researchers from universities, institutes and the business community collaborate. Güler: “With the pilot plant, we can study how our process works outside the laboratory. We also gain more insight into the costs and revenues.” The researchers initially hope to generate a modest fifty kilowatts of electricity. They then want to build a plant that produces two hundred megawatts. This is comparable with a small coal plant. And Güler? He is now busy on removing sodium ion selectivity from irrigation water so that it can be used for agriculture. And so he continues with his common thread: water.

NAME : Enver Güler (1984)

POSITION: postdoctoral researcher at Wetsus, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology. Güler obtained his PhD in January 2014 in Twente at the MESA + Membrane Science and Technology group. He designed membranes that generate energy from the mixing of seawater and river water

PREVIOUSLY: Güler completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Ege University in Izmir on the Turkish west coast in 2007. In 2009, he obtained his Master’s degree at the same university. Among other things he performed research in Israel and completed traineeships at Bayer Crop Science and Unilever

HOBBY: Güler enjoys freshwater fishing and photography

MESA +... ‘brings together fundamental research and applications’

Güler already knew what he wanted to do while at secondary school: solve problems for humanity. And that had to be, he thought, by means of chemistry and physics. “While I was working on my master’s degree in Israel on the desalination of sea water, my supervisor recommended that I continue with this type of research, and that the Netherlands was the best place to do this.” Güler subsequently performed his PhD research with the MESA+ Membrane Technology group at the University of Twente from 2009 to 2013.