Willibrordus Petrus Maria (Wim) van Swaaij was born on January 18th 1942 in Nijmegen. He studied Chemical Engineering at the TU in Eindhoven with Prof.dr. K. Rietema. His PhD work was carried out in Nancy (France) with Prof. Le Goff. On 13th June 1967 he obtained his PhD degree at the TU Eindhoven on the subject of ‘residence Time Distribution in Raschig Ring Columns at Trickle Flow’. His promoter was Prof.dr. K. Rietema.
From 1965 to 1972 he worked for Shell Research BV mainly in Amsterdam, on fluidization, reaction engineering and process development. His last position was section leader gasification processes.
In 1972 he became full professor of Chemical Engineering Sciences at the University of Twente where he (co-) authored over 500 scientific papers, several handbooks and was promoter of 58 PhD students. Furthermore, he acted often as invited or plenary speaker at universities, companies and congresses (such as ISCRE) and was on the editorial board of Chemical Engineering Science.
The research conducted in the group encompassed the following three fields of Chemical Engineering Science: 1) Fundamentals of Multiphase Reactors, 2) Development of Novel Reactors, and 3) Energy Conversion Technology.
In 1999 Prof. Van Swaaij acted as ad interim professor in the group Industrial Polymerization Processes and expanded his previous activities in the research theme Biomass; this led in 2006 to a separate group within the University of Twente, at present he is still part-time active within this group.
From 1992 till 2002 he was scientific director of the Dutch National Postgraduate School on Process Technology (OSPT) and of the Process Technology Institute Twente (PIT), and was one of the initiators (1988) of the two years full time post graduate designer course leading to the official Dutch certificate “Process designer/developer”. In 2012 he became chairman of the advisory board of the Green Energy Initiative, an organization that bundles all energy related research at the University of Twente.
He is/was consultant for several multinational firms; present and past activities: AKZO, DSM, Unilever, Shell, Solvay Duphar, TNO, BASF, Cortis-Dow.
Van Swaaij is/was a member of several boards and advisory committees for government, companies and institutes like NIZO, ECN, etc., and of many national and European professional and scientific organizations.
He is elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTI) and The Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities.
He received the Australian European Fellowship award (1984), the Dow Chemical Energy Prize (1985) and the “Grand Prix du Génie des Procédés” of the French Academic of Sciences (1996). He was nominated doctor honoris causa by the Université de Nancy (1996). Van Swaaij received the Golden Tesla medal for energy research (1999) and the Hoogewerff Medal for Lifetime Achievement (2000). In November 2004 he received the Royal Dutch Shell Prize. He is also honorary member of the National Society of Dutch Engineers (KIvI Niria, 2007). Van Swaaij is Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion.