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From the Editors
Welcome at the Newsletter of the Section Sanitary Engineering of the Delft University of Technology. It is a tradition to inform you about the progress we have made in research and education during the last months.  I’ll give you some highlights.
As usual some Master student graduated and their reports can be downloaded for your information. This time we especially want to highlight the start of a new educational trajectory: PDEng (professional doctorate of Engineering). In February four water students started with their two years’ studies. We think this is an excellent way of giving extra attention to high potential MSc students who want to become a specialist in design and engineering. We work together with companies on the practically relevant subject and if you are also interested to join, please contact us.
Last year, we've welcomed Merle de Kreuk (see photo) as professor Environmental Technology. Last month she gave her inaugural speech. We expect a lot from her in relation to advanced wastewater treatment and recovery of valuable compounds from this alternative source.
We try as much as possible combine our research with education and posterior implementation in practice. To extend this work to Developing countries, Doris van Halem initiated a programme on “Global Drinking Water”. In this programme (PhD and MSc) students from both the Netherlands and the developing countries can work on high level scientific research towards technology development for drinking water supply, and test and demonstrate these technologies in the field for enhanced adoption potential. Here, in a vibrant environment, students meet practice and vice versa.
On a BSc level the Marc van Eekeren fund supports students to travel and gain experience in the field of Water Management and in particular Sanitary Engineering. The number of students who benefit from this fund increases every year and they all return full of enthusiastic stories and motivation for the continuation of their studies.
We wish you a lot of pleasure during reading,

Luuk Rietveld
Jules van Lier



22 June 2018

7 September 2018

12 September 2018

9 november 2018


Building 20 - Aula 12:30 PhD Defence Marco van Bijnen
Buiding 20 - Aula 15:00 PhD Defence Mostafa Zahmatkesh
Building 23 - KG 02.110 13:30 - 16:30 Workshop Networkgroup Industry Water, student pitches
Building 20 - Aula PhD 10:00 Defence Maarten Keuten

Research projects

Launch of TU Delft | Global Drinking Water programme

Access to safe drinking water is a global challenge, particularly affecting the rural poor in developing countries. This urgent problem requires new, smart solutions for the removal of a wide range of contaminants of global concern, such as arsenic, fluoride, pathogens and antibiotic resistant genes. 

With the new TU Delft Global Drinking Water programme Dr. Doris van Halem is accelerating the development of new drinking water technologies by stimulating early-stage field research in developing countries. The combination of solid scientific research in the Water Lab of TU Delft and hands-on field research has proven to speed up technology development, as well as local end-user engagement and technology adoption.

The programme is kicking-off with PhD projects in Nicaragua, Bangladesh and rural India. The projects are designed to include BSc and MSc Civil Engineering students of both TU Delft and the target countries to strengthen the project and encourage local capacity building. At present the programme is investing in a mobile water lab – ‘a water lab in a suitcase’ – to overcome the practical hurdles of measuring different water quality parameters in the field.

Learn more? Go to and read the Global Story on Doris van Halem

Sandra de Vries and Annelies de Bakker

An ocean adventure to draw attention to the need of better sanitary engineering of the Dutch Carribean ABC Islands

This is me standing on board of the RV Pelagia marine research vessel sailing out of the harbour of Willemstad, Curaçao. Together with five scientists with expertise ranging from hydrogeology to coral reef ecology, I participated in the NWO NICO expedition (Netherlands Initiative Changing Oceans; Between 25/1 – 2/2, 2018 we cruised along the coasts of Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, to find evidence for submarine outflow of (polluted) groundwater and potential relations with coral reef decline and the occurrence of cyanobacterial mats at larger depths (60 meters). These were found with a submarine 2 years ago offshore Bonaire.
Groundwater contamination by malfunctioning septic tanks or cesspits is widespread on the islands and leads to high nutrient levels in groundwater. We hypothesize that by the steady and diffuse process of submarine groundwater discharge these nutrients from land can reach the coral reef environment. Waste water collection and treatment occurs in the main residential areas but does not always function well leading in these situations to direct discharge of sewage to bays. Landfilling in open dumps also leads to groundwater pollution and unpleasant situations concerning odour and health. Nutrients and associated pollutants are important local factors in coral reef decline due to overgrowth of algae. Therefore, proper sanitary engineering is a prerequisite to prevent groundwater pollution and to limit damage to coral reefs and keep the islands attractive to tourists.
We are still in the process of interpreting the acquired data and publishing the results. We aim for a large research project on the Dutch ABC islands linking sanitary engineering via hydrogeology and oceanography to coral reef ecology.
Further information on my experiences during the NICO expedition can be read, heard, or watched in Dutch with the links below:

Radio interview:

TV program Focus:

Boris van Breukelen





The Netherlands is facing serious environmental and societal challenges: sustainable supply of energy and drinking water, wastewater pollution, accessibility of metropolitan areas and enlargement of the rail transport capacity.  An important part of these challenges is related to the water and infrastructure sectors. Increasing urbanization, a growing demand for high-frequency rail traffic, climate change, availability of safe drinking water and the energy transition are today’s problems. Unfortunately, many companies still focus on labour flexibility and outsourcing of tasks which has led to a shrinkage of the knowledge level and thus of innovation power. Opportunities for the development of technical experience and new ideas through experience and learning on the job have been greatly reduced. Therefore, in both the water and the structural engineering sector, there is a need for new designers who can provide a knowledge impulse to the start of innovations.
The program started officially with 5 students on 13 February 2018. Each student is related to a company and works on an actual challenge from the company. The students are their projects are mentioned below:


Name Involved company Supervisor TU Delft Supervisor Company Topic
Paul le Lan BAM Rolf Dollevoet
Michael Steenbergen
Rober Pasteuning Modelization of defects initiation and growth due to RCF on Dutch railway track maintained
Sajad Fathi Vitens Doris van Halem              Boris van Breukelen Martin de Jong Subsurface Iron Removal
Hala Alhamed Waternet Luuk Rietveld                   
Lisa Scholten
Niels Schaart Integrated urban water asset management
Manuel Garcia Host Jules van Lier                 Ralph Lindeboom Richard van Leeuwen Manure mining
Steven Ros KWR Mark Bakker                      Martin Bloemendal Martin Bloemendal Aquifer storage and recovery

For more information regarding the programme,  to register in the new period or to start a cooperation contact the coordinators of the programme through: 

Amir Haidari


Workshops/ Activities

Royal Lunch 

Before the closure of the IWA Granular Sludge Conference, I had to rush to another important meeting in The Hague. King Abdullah and Queen Rania were visiting The Netherlands, which was a great opportunity for our prime minister Rutte to welcome them with a formal lunch, in the presence of our own King and Queen and ministers Blok, Kaag, Schouten and Van Nieuwenhuizen. The theme of the lunch was the Energy, food and water nexus. In King Abdullah underlined the importance of collaboration on the topic of watermanagement between Jordan and The Netherlands: “Jordan is the second water-poorest country in the world. And indeed, the water situation in our two countries could not be more different. But I say that no two countries better understand the profound impact of water management on humanity’s future. So I think there are some very fruitful areas for our combined knowledge.”

I was invited to answer a question that was asked by Mark Rutte about the possibilities of application of Nereda in Jordan. I spoke enthusiastically about the possibilities of aerobic granular sludge for wastewater treatment, energy production from the sludge itself, water reuse and resource recovery, which led to the remark by minister Blok when putting on our coats that he “never heard anyone speaking so passionate about sludge”. Hopefully this lunch helped to showcase Dutch water technology once more, and to underline importance of collaboration and education in the field of environmental engineering.

Merle de Kreuk

IWA Biofilms: Granular Sludge System Conference 2018

From March 18th to 21st the IWA Biofilms: Granular Sludge Conference 2018 was held here in Delft, with sponsorship from Paques, Biothane and Royal HaskoningDHV. The conference was organised by the departments of Watermanagement (CiTG) and Biotechnology (AS), both having a strong track record in granular sludge research. Aerobic and Anammox granular sludge have even been developed right here in Delft! The conference was the first opportunity for researchers of the different granular sludge types (anaerobic, Anammox and aerobic) to come together and to share their knowledge. The program covered a wide range of topics, from granular sludge microbiomes to application of granular sludge and from granule formation mechanisms to resource recovery. Lesley Robertson of the Delft School of Microbiology Archives gave a fascinating presentation on the life and work of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. As the founding father of microbiology, we still build upon his discoveries in granular sludge research. The conference ended with a site visit to the Nereda (aerobic granular sludge) of WWTP Epe and the UASB and Anammox reactors of WWTP Olburgen.

Granular sludge has been fascinating to researchers and engineers over the past decades across redox conditions. It offers ways to efficiently retain biomass, intensify biological wastewater treatment processes, meet with always more stringent discharge standards, and recover valuable water resources. We aim to bring together and to activate debate across the multiple disciplines needed to understand these small biofilm ecosystems: engineers, biotechnologists, microbiologists, chemists, physicists, mathematical modellers, and innovation technologists. All pioneers, freshmen, and leaders of the field are welcome to critically discuss the state-of-the-art of granular sludge, visit latest-generation installations, and anticipate future breakthroughs and developments.
We look forward to welcoming you to Delft, the birth place of the found father of microbiology, van Leeuwenhoek and Dutch painter Vermeer. See you at the Delft School of Microbiology for what we hope will be a meeting to remember.
Granular sludge offers ways to retain biomass, intensify wastewater treatment processes, and recover used water resources. Continuous research and development since late sixties resulted in breakthrough innovations. Granular sludge science and engineering moved from anaerobic conversions to aerobic-anaerobic ammonium oxidation and full biological nutrient removal. Granulation has first been observed in anaerobic upflow filters and clarigesters. Formation and application of methanogenic granular consortia has intrigued scientists and engineers for decades. Partial nitritation/anammox and "aerobic" granular sludges opened up a new field of ecological engineering to steer new-generation processes.
Functionalities have been pursued across redox conditions. Anaerobic, fermentative, heterotrophic and autotrophic, nitrifying and denitrifying, and even phototrophic conversions have been studied. Reactions combination and populations interactions under diffusional resistances revealed the complexity of these tiny biofilm ecosystems. Original reactor designs vary from slender continuously operated reactors with  3-phase separation to wide sequencing batch reactors. Managing microbial and hydraulic selection pressures for granule formation and retention is crucial. All systems aim at high rates and compactness.
Bio-analytical breakthroughs fostered microbial ecology, ecophysiology, and systems microbiology integration to characterize selection mechanisms  and distributed metabolisms. This provides a framework for a better understanding of microbial drivers of granular sludge formation and stability as basis for improved and innovative designs. Granular biofilms consist of microorganisms and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that provide cohesive, hydrophobic, and gelling properties. Granular sludge EPS extracts display different rheological features than flocs. Avanced physical-chemical and molecular research will unravel relations between EPS characteristics and microbiome features.
Resources factories are driven by granular sludge on top of high standards for environmental protection. Besides biogas production, innovative anaerobic systems propel the carboxylate platform. Lipid-rich algal granules steer biofuel production. High-value exopolymers can be recovered from waste granular sludge biosolids, and find application in the industry.
A community of engineers and scientists developed around granular sludge. We aim to bridge pioneers, international leaders, and new-generation experts across disciplines to critically discuss the state-of-the-art and anticipate the future of granular sludge. We convey colleagues from all continents to join us in Delft, for enthusiastic debates and networking.

Lenno van den Berg

Impressie Wereld Waterdag Madurodam 2018

Water and health have always gone together, for the good and the bad.
As students of TU Delft participating in the Water and Health class (CIE5421), we were challenged to come up with a brand-new idea on how to combine the World’s Water Days with an educational activity for the youth. With little hesitation and a hefty dose of enthusiasm, ideas commenced to roll out. Not long into deliberation did it come to light that one of the group members shared a career in the past as a Mayor of the Madurodam - the Dutch miniature park. Little did we know how remarkable of an event would ensue, but first - a lot of work was to be done.
We thought to provide a lecture on modern-day water issues that would be both educational and entertaining for the kids. Madurodam liked the idea from the first beat but a common question occurred - where is the money? That was not enough to stop the momentum of this group and another member reached out to an organization he was a part of to bring more publicity to the issue. This is how the Dutch Wavemakers hopped aboard the boat that we were setting off. We now needed a pivotal partner - not only a sponsor but someone who would want to be there, help with the know-how on water issues and would want to become more known among the younger public. We were in luck because nothing spells out (figuratively) the qualities mentioned above better than Rijkswaterstaat.
And so, we reached out that way, and again - were met with enthusiasm and a ‘yes-we-can’ attitude. As it turned out, Rijkswaterstaat already had an agenda on educating the young ones about the work they do and the water risks we face every day, so this was just the right thing for them! Many emails later all was checked and confirmed, meanwhile, the work on the event was going at full speed.
We decided to combine the lecture with an activity in the park to give the kids the best of both worlds. The lectures encompassed for the strategic points of Rijkswaterstaat’s agenda: water safety in terms of climate change and the damage that could ensue the flooding. This was followed with a quiz on the freshly acquired knowledge and concluded with a story of one of our team-members on why foreigners come flying to the Netherlands to study water management. Partially also to our surprise - this really captivated the children’s attention and left a lasting impression, also in the cultural-diversity scope.
For the park activity we put together a scavenger hunt where kids had to form teams and search the park using a provided map. We placed water-related questions around the park attractions that pertained to water: the water barriers (Oosterscheldekering and Maeslantkering), Kinderdijk and many more. This rally was a big success and together with Rijkswaterstaat’s guidance we succeeded at informing the children about water safety and how it is impacted by climate change. We would like to thank our partners and sponsors - Madurodam, Rijkswaterstaat and Dutch Wavemakers, for making this possible.

Voytek Barycki, Daniel Dacomba, Pieter den Dekker, Noor Holland and Tycho Klessens

read more

Marc van Eekeren Reisfonds

The "Marc van Eekeren Reisfonds"  is a fund which gives financial support for TU Delft Bachelor students who want to do research abroad for Urban Watercycle research topics like : drinkingwater systems, drinkingwater production and transport and wastewater treatment and transport. 

The subsidy consists of a compensation for demonstrable travel costs for a maximum of 2 persons out of the same researchgroup. Some examples are : datacollection for a design of a waterplant installation of a sanitationproject, fieldwork to existing waterplants. The research at location can take place as part of a 2nd and 3rd year project, a (free) Minor project or a Bachelor endwork.

The coaching of the researchproject should be in sufficient. Students are allowed only once to use the fund.

Below the names of the students who have used the fund.
In the link below you can see the reports and foto's. 

Copyright ©2015 TU Delft, sectie Sanitary Engineering, All rights reserved.

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TU Delft · Secretariaat Sanitary Engineering · Stevinweg 1 · Delft, Zh 2600 GA · Netherlands

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