Jaap van der Graaf Award goes to Alexander Hendriks

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The Jaap van der Graaf Award was presented to Alexander Hendriks on 12 January 2018, during the 70th Drinking Water and Waste Water Symposium (‘Vakantiecursus’) at Delft University of Technology. This annual prize is given in recognition of the best English-language article about waste water treatment, written by a student or researcher and published during the preceding year. The winning article, by Alexander Hendriks, was published in the journal Biotechnology Advances under the title ‘Growth media in anaerobic fermentative processes: The underestimated potential of thermophilic fermentation and anaerobic digestion’.

An independent jury considered 28 entries, all of high quality. The names of the three finalists and the overall winner were announced during the Symposium. The jury members based their deliberations on five key criteria: societal relevance, innovation, practicality (with a view to implementation in the short to medium term), scientific content and language. Based on these criteria, a shortlist of 7 names was composed. The jury chose the article by Hendriks about the fermentation and digestion of organic waste(water) as overall winner because his literature study shows how the absence of trace elements (vitamins and minerals) can seriously disrupt the daily practice of the fermentation of waste water.

From the jury report: 'The measurement of trace elements can be done easily and can then be taken into account in day-to-day procedures. In short, organisms in the water purification system must take sufficient 'vitamins' to stay healthy, just as humans. The article by Hendriks can serve as an accessible reference book that provides a detailed overview of the various possible effects. Furthermore, the jury greatly appreciates that this publication was written by only one author under the supervision of two supervisors, while almost all other articles had a multitude of authors.’

The Jaap van der Graaf Award is sponsored by consultancy and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos, which created the award in 2009 to mark the retirement of Jaap van der Graaf as Professor of Waste Water Treatment at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Delft. Prof. Van der Graaf has close ties with the Deventer-based company, having been its managing director from 1988 to 2003. The prize is awarded annually and the winner receives 5,000 euros and a glass trophy.

Submitted articles should comply with the following conditions:

  • the subject is related to the urban water system (including drinking water, wastewater and sewerage) and contributes to a higher profile to Dutch expertise in this field
  • the author should be a student at a Dutch university or employed in professional practice in the Netherlands
  • if at the time of publication the author is not working (anymore) in the Dutch professional practice, the research should have taken place in the Netherlands
  • the article in English must be published in a peer reviewed journal in 2017
  • the subject must have practical applicability.

Entries are judged by an independent panel, which this year comprised Professor Jules van Lier (Delft University of Technology/Unesco-IHE, chair), Dr Jelle Roorda (Waterschap Limburg/Delft University of Technology/Waternetwerk), Cor Merks, MSc (Witteveen+Bos), Dr Hardy Temmink (WUR/Wetsus), Dr Jasper Verberk (Evides), Professor Gertjan Medema (Delft University of Technology/KWR Water), Ad de Man, MSc (Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg), Dr Arjen van Nieuwenhuijzen (Witteveen+Bos).