Bert Hamelers appointed as special professor at Biological Recovery and Reuse Technology

The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research has appointed Dr Bert Hamelers as Special Professor of Electrochemical Resource Ecology at the Biological Recovery and Reuse Technology group of Prof. Cees Buisman. The appointment will come into effect from 1 December. The chair is financially supported by Wetsus.

Dr H.V.M. (Bert) Hamelers (1958) graduated cum laude from Wageningen University in Environmental Hygiene – now Environmental Sciences – in 1987. He chose this field due to his involvement with nature, and he chose Wageningen due to its unique range of environmental courses. After initially focusing on ecology and soil, he decided to switch to technology, with courses in water purification, microbiology and mathematics. After completing his degree, he worked for a short time in Finland for the Dutch environmental biotechnology company Paques.

Career in research

Hamelers then returned to Wageningen and began a career in research. As a PhD candidate, he focused on low-emission manure composting under the supervision of Professor W.H. Rulkens from the Environmental Technology group and Professor G. van Straten from the Measurement, Control and System Technology group. He received his PhD in 2001. During and after his PhD research he lectured in Environmental Technology, focussing on the biological processing of organic residual flows such as kitchen and garden waste. Hamelers thus acquired broad experience in teaching and supervising students. H.V.M. (Bert) Hamelers (photo: Guy Ackermans) H.V.M. (Bert) Hamelers (photo: Guy Ackermans)

Electrochemical engineering

Due to the growing importance of renewable energy, his research has increasingly focused on energy, in particular on electrochemical processes. His interest in possible applications of his research has resulted in four spin-off companies, including Plant-e.

In 2011 he left Wageningen University & Research and began working at Wetsus, a research institute in sustainable water technology, where he became programme director and is now responsible for the quality of the research programme. In addition, he continued to conduct research into water technology and electrochemistry.

Recovery of raw materials and energy

With the new professorship, Hamelers wants to focus on the development of electrochemical technology for the recovery of raw materials and energy from residual flows. The emphasis is on substances that are important for agriculture and chemistry, such as ammonia and CO2. Electrochemistry makes it possible to develop circular processes based on sustainable electricity.