Adsorbent X, an inorganic porous material that shows a remarkably high affi nity and selectivity for these perfluorinated micropollutants compared to benchmark adsorbents such as activated carbon. On top of that, it can be fully regenerated.

The challenge in removing perfluorinated micropollutants is the further reduction of low concentrations of PFCs from a μg/L to a ng/L scale, this applies for large volumes of natural water and waste water. This makes many treatment technologies that require high concentrations or have high energy demands obsolete. The use of adsorbents can be a low-energy and low-cost solution, provided that the PFC micropollutants can be selectively removed from water matrices that contain a wide range of inorganic and organic compounds, often in far higher concentrations. Many benchmark adsorbents for micropollutants, such as activated carbon, fail this selectivity requirement. Adsorbent X, however, has a remarkably high selectivity for PFCs over other organic compounds, even when they are present in high excess. Zeolite X also does extremely well for other important adsorptive features, such as affi nity (at lower concentrations), fast kinetics, stability, regeneration, etc.

Competences gained at VITO
  • It is challenging but interesting to bridge the gap from KU Leuven (fundamental research) to VITO (applied science).
  • It was a learning process to cooperate with different partners at different locations, each with their own expertise, ambitions and interests.
My added value

I consider myself a scientist who is able to leave his comfort zone and fi eld of expertise. I see a lot of scientists who are outstanding in their field but lack a bird’s eye view of the overall strategy of their group, institution, company, etc. Working at both KU Leuven and VITO taught me to grasp the different aspects and purposes of scientifi c research. I have always been interested in long term strategy and planning. I therefore see myself more in a managing role in a company, not just an employee in the R&D sector.

I would like to start in an engineering position: either as a process or project engineer.

Matthias Van den Bergh