For a long time, we have consumed raw materials and produced large quantities of waste by consuming in a linear model. However, we can no longer live in this way, according to Sissi de Beer from University of Twente, active in ReCoVR and Recovery and Circularity of Valuable Resources. In this article, she talks us through current projects, opportunities and pitfalls along the energy- and material transition.
Name: Sissi de Beer
Position: Associate Professor of Sustainable Polymer Chemistry / Program Director of Engineering Physics
Organization: University of Twente
Works with ISPT on: Program manager Perspective program ReCoVR, Recovery and Circularity of Valuable Resources
I enjoy working with ISPT. Within ISPT there is an open atmosphere where you can freely discuss research plans and plenty of opportunities are sought to establish collaborations between universities and industry.Sissi de Beer
Why do you think it is important to contribute to the Dutch sustainability targets in the climate agreement?
“I think it is important to strive for a better world. For a long time, we have consumed raw materials and produced large quantities of waste by consuming in a linear model. Today, this is no longer acceptable: it has become clear that we will run out of raw materials at some point. Therefore, we must move towards a circular economy in which all raw materials can be reused. My team and I translate fundamental knowledge of polymer physics into applications in sensors and in separation technology. Both application are going to be of great importance in the transition to a circular economy.”
What problems need to be solved in order to accelerate?
“It will be a major challenge to separate valuable materials from waste streams. These molecules and materials are often present in low concentrations and are trapped in complex flows with many other molecules and materials. Traditional separation techniques (e.g. based on temperature or pressure swing processes) quickly become too energy intensive for this purpose. Therefore, new more efficient and effective separation techniques must be developed. That is quite the challenge.”
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for innovations and the Dutch sustainability targets with the climate agreement?
“With the new innovations we can lead the world in the transition to a circular economy. There are also clear financial benefits for Dutch businesses. With rising energy prices, traditional separation technologies are becoming an increasingly significant cost item. By developing new efficient and effective separation technologies, we can reduce the separation costs and therefore this also has financial benefits for the companies.”
Tell us about your collaboration with ISPT?
“In recent years, I have enjoyed working with ISPT. The network of ISPT has been of great importance in setting up our Perspective project ReCoVR. Within ISPT there is an open atmosphere where you can freely discuss research plans and plenty of opportunities are sought to establish collaborations between universities and industry.”
What is your dream/where will your company be in 2030?
“My dream is that in 2030, together with the partners within ReCoVR, we will have developed a new class of separation technologies that will be an important step in the transition to a circular economy.”
Our partners are of great value for our open innovation platform. In this series we proudly introduce some of them to you with a short interview about collaboration in the energy transition.
This work is part of the research programme NWO Perspective and is partly financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).