“I was inspired by the sustainable nature of the project”

Dion Smink successfully defended his PhD dissertation on December 16 of this year. The 27-year-old researcher focused on the topic of Deep eutectic solvents (DES) at University of Twente.

Before his PhD, Smink studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Twente. He was raised in a small village called Silvolde, but he has been living in Twente for ten years now. After his PhD, he started working for Hosokawa Micron, a company that designs, manufactures and supplies powder processing systems and equipment. In his spare time, he likes to do horse riding.

DES project

Smink was told about the DES project by my professor, Boelo Schuur. ‘At that time, I was doing my Master of Science assignment under his supervision’.

Dion Smink

‘I studied new processes for biomass delignification using deep eutectic solvents (DES). Using these processes, cellulose pulp can be produced, which can be used for the production of paper’.

Compared to the currently used Kraft process, delignification using DES is more energy efficient, thus providing opportunities for valorising the side streams. While in the CO2 neutral Kraft process the ‘byproduct’ lignin is burned for its energy, by using the DES process the lignin can be isolated and used as an alternative feedstock for the chemical industry, thereby decreasing CO2 emissions.’

Smink chose this research topic because he enjoys the complex and sustainable nature of biomass and it is a subject that is still very practical and industrially applicable. ‘I was inspired by the sustainable nature of the project and by the large number of companies and organizations that collaborated to reach this common goal.’

Read more about Dion Smink’s defence here.