Kitty Nijmeijer wins Academic Society Award and argues for circular economy
The Dutch Royal Institute of Engineers (KIVI) will award the Academic Society Award to Prof. Kitty Nijmeijer, Professor of Membrane Technology, on 21 March. Nijmeijer has been awarded this prize because of the great importance of her research and the appealing way in which she manages to make the connection between science and society.
Professor Nijmeijer is doing pioneering research on membranes, a kind of super-filter. In 2014, her research was put into practice at the Afsluitdijk in the world’s first blue power plant where the mixing of river and sea water is used to generate sustainable energy. More charged particles (salt ions) are present in salt water than in fresh water. When a membrane is placed between the two, ions are transported and converted into electricity. Membranes can also be used for removing the residues of drugs from water, for recovering valuable substances so that they can be reused and for making bioplastics or biofuels.
“I am very happy and very honored to have won the Academic Society Award,” says Nijmeijer. “Ever since the beginning of my scientific career, I have tried to connect research and society, even when that was not so obvious. This award is therefore a great recognition for me personally and for the research of our group.”
Prof. dr. Nijmeijer continues: “I notice that people tend not to know the importance of research and technology to humanity. In addition, technology will only become more important in the future. I am convinced that we will have to transform our linear economy into a sustainable, circular economy. That is a huge technological and social transition. Only engineers can translate abstract scientific research into concrete applications. By explaining our research in a way that people can understand, I want to show them how beautiful technology is and to convey that virtually everything we use, consume and do is only possible thanks to that technology.”
KIVI director Micaela dos Ramos: "The research of Prof. dr. ir. Kitty Nijmeijer brings important innovations to life at the interface of sustainable energy, water, materials and raw materials. Nijmeijer has been distinguished by KIVI because of the high quality and societal significance of her research and the way in which she tirelessly makes use of various bodies to generate knowledge and awareness for these themes and to stimulate the debate.”
About the Academic Society Award
Professors who distinguish themselves through excellent research and their ability to make the connection between science and society in an appealing way are considered for the KIVI Academic Society Award that is presented annually during the Day of the Engineer, when the Prince Friso Engineer Award is presented to the Engineer of the Year. Previous winners include Nobel laureate Ben Feringa and TU/e professor Maarten Steinbuch.