The history, future and necessity of membrane technology

To celebrate 50 years of membrane technology, Wafilin Systems organised a Membrane Conference on 21 October. Together with its partners, Water Alliance and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Wafilin Systems offered a diverse and insightful programme at the WaterCampus in Leeuwarden, the very heart of water technology. The event was dedicated to the presentations and discussions about the history, future and necessity of membrane technology with people in the industry.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dutch Membrane Technology. Wafilin Systems considered this a perfect opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved over the years and review the technology’s future potential. In close collaboration with the Water Alliance, Wafilin Systems developed a programme and invited speakers to provide participants with an entertaining and engaging tour of membrane technology’s development through the years. 

Knowledge sharing between academic and business society

The day started with an introduction by Jan van Iersel (Van Hall Larenstein’s Chairman of the Board), followed by a plenary reflection on and discussion of the past years. Under the inspiring guidance of Alex Berhitu, Project Manager at NV NOM, the audience was led through a timeline that began with the earliest pioneers and ended with membranes’ first industrial processing applications. Harry van Dalfsen, Wafilin Systems’ founder and Technical Director, looks back “Together with Erik Roesink (Chief Technology Officer at NX Filtration), Walter van der Meer (professor at University of Twente and CEO of Oasen) and I travelled back in time through the world of membranes. Their stories were told from an academic perspective and mine were based on my business experiences.” They looked back on a time when membrane technology was still in its earliest stages and how these processes have since become an important factor in today’s circular economy.

Technical sessions

Following this look back, three scientific presentations by professors from the Universities of Twente, Eindhoven and Wageningen, who presented their views on recent trends in their fields and future developments in membrane technology. This included topics such as ‘fundamental properties of membranes’ and ‘applications in water and food technology.’ These were interesting examples of what is possible in a field that is one of the Dutch top sectors. After a lunch break the programme resumed with parallel sessions by renowned speakers from companies such as Royal Avebe, Royal Friesland Campina, Royal Cosun, Evides and Vitens. They shared their experiences on the use of membranes in production processes and membranes’ contributions to circularity in the food and dairy industries.

An inspiring, successful event

Various parties were present at the conference. “Knowledge institutions, membrane suppliers and users. All demonstrated that membrane technology will continue to contribute to a better world. The event was a great success, offering professionals from different backgrounds an opportunity to meet, learn from and inspire each other,” says Henk Schonewille, CEO of Wafilin Systems. Attendees were also full of praise for the conference. “It was well-organised and the programme was very interesting and inspiring. We’re lucky it was possible to proceed in this form. It was tremendously valuable to be able to meet each other.” says one attendee.

Would you like to learn more about the conference and current developments in membrane technology? If so, please contact Henk Schonewille at

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