Dutch water experts are coming to Chicago next week to showcase the latest in Dutch water expertise and innovative technologies during the 90th annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference.

WEFTEC®,  as the conference is known to industry insiders, is a large international water conference and exhibition that attracts thousands of water and wastewater experts from around the world to learn from each other. The conference will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 4.

The Dutch excel in water technology due to centuries of experience dealing with water issues, producing drinking water, and treating wastewater, said Jarda van Spengen of the Holland Innovation Network (HIN).

HIN promotes international collaboration between businesses, knowledge institutes and governments in the field of innovation, technology, and science.

“Water Technology takes a growing position in circular economy, energy transition, and sustainable development goals,” he said. “The US in general, and Chicago and the Midwest in particular, have abundant opportunities for global oriented nations, such as the Netherlands, whether it is doing business, joint research, or embracing accelerators and cluster-to-cluster collaboration. WEFTEC 2017 brings in a scientific and commercial delegation from the Netherlands.”

The Dutch presence at WEFTEC

More than a dozen Dutch companies will attend the conference, each showcasing their own innovative technology, something Dutch water companies are renowned for, according to Hein Molenkamp, managing director of the Water Alliance in the Netherlands.

Big companies, such as Nijhuis Industries and Paques Industries, are among the attendees, as are many small and medium-sized enterprises. They will gather in the Netherlands Business Pavilion (booth 8134) at the exhibit.

The Dutch water tech companies are relatively well known. They are considered to be innovative and have a good reputation with regards to, for instance, resource recovery and smart sensor technology,” Molenkamp said. “Other companies and countries also perceive us to be innovative, which is a good thing! There is a lot of interest in and demand for resource recovery from waste water, and a number of the Dutch companies attending the WEFTEC have some really innovative means of extracting resources from waste water or process it in great, efficient ways.”

A long history of water expertise

The Netherlands has a long history of defending itself from floods, and reclaiming lost or unusable land from the sea — an expertise the Dutch are renowned for around the world.

In fact, Dutch companies have been involved in water-management projects all over the world, from the U.S. to Brazil to China. However, Dutch water expertise extends beyond keeping feet dry. Water technology is also an area in which the Dutch are highly involved.

One of the Dutch companies attending the WEFTEC, NX Filtration, will showcase how to use hollow fiber membranes to remove micro-contaminants such as antibiotics, pesticides, and other organics from water.

“Our membranes, unlike others, are capable of removing micro contaminants from water, and we are able to do so in a much more efficient manner than other conventional membranes,” said Robert Gerard of NX Filtration. “To give you an idea, the pressure required for many membranes to purify or desalinate water is around 800 psi, whereas our membranes are able to purify water at 70 psi, which is a lot more efficient.”

Another company, LG Sonic, will demonstrate how ultrasound waves can be used to halt the growth of algae.

“We specialize in the production of solar-powered, ultrasound, algae control modules that can cover a large surface area,” said Anne Gierveld of LG Sonic. “We call them MPC-Buoys. They provide effective algae control in large bodies of water, eliminating up to 90% of existing algae and completely preventing the growth of new ones. Our buoy is safe for the environment and wildlife because we only use ultrasound waves to combat the algae. No chemicals needed.”

These are but two examples of Dutch expertise in water technology, but there are many more. Interested in learning more about the WEFTEC or the Dutch companies attending? Be sure to check out the full-length interviews, which will be published periodically in the run-up to the WEFTEC, on the Consulate General in Chicago’s LinkedIn page.