’Everything Flows in the Netherlands’

Photo: Bart van Overbeeke
Photo: Bart van Overbeeke
New report highlights the importance of fluid dynamics research at TU/e and other universities for Dutch industry

Dutch industry employs more than 19,000 people who are working on fluid flows in their many different forms. The export of products and services in the field of flow dynamics provides great added value for the economy and society. This is evident from the report ’Everything Flows in the Netherlands’, which was presented today to members of the Dutch Parliament.

Fluid dynamics is the science of moving fluids, gases, and particles, and it involves predicting, controlling, and measuring flows at any speed and on any scale: from the smallest blood vessels in our bodies to hurricanes in the atmosphere.

It is a vital, but usually somewhat unknown field, yet it impacts the lives of everyone every day. It turns out that more than 19,000 people work on fluid dynamics in Dutch industry and that fluid dynamics contributes 11.5 billion euros annually to the Dutch economy. Such figures demonstrate that fluid dynamics will play a crucial in solving our future societal challenges.

The report ’Everything Flows in the Netherlands’, commissioned by the J.M. Burgerscentrum, the national research school for fluid dynamics, calculates the gross value added to be 130,000 euros per employee. In addition, more than 75% of the fluid dynamics industry exports its products and services.

Structurally underfunded

The report was presented today to spokesmen for science and innovation in the Dutch Parliament. The report comes at an important moment as the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate is in the process of determining the most important key technologies for the future of the Netherlands, while the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) is also engaged in a future exploration of the initiative of Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf.

"Fluid dynamics sometimes falls between two stools: at OCW it is seen more as a technology, at Economic Affairs it is seen as a scientific discipline. As a result, fluid dynamics is structurally underfunded in the Netherlands, while on a European scale we are arguably among the top," says Professor Detlef Lohse (University of Twente) who recently received his third Advanced Grant from the European Research Council ERC.

Top sector and mission-transcending

Professor Ruud Henkes, director of the Burgerscentrum notes that there is appreciation far and wide for the Netherlands’ work on fluid dynamics: "Internationally, the Netherlands has been ranked among the world’s best in fluid dynamics for more than a century. It seems as if foreign countries appreciate the important Dutch contributions more than the Netherlands itself."

With the report ’Everything Flows in the Netherlands’, the Burgerscentrum aims to highlight not only the quality, but also the importance of fluid dynamics. The report contains appealing examples of results in the fields of climate, energy transition, health, high-tech, environment, agriculture, and food. "The breadth in the applications of fluid dynamics does seem to be our bottleneck," Henkes said. "The field is really top sector and mission-transcending."

Novel solutions energy transition

Professor Niels Deen, professor on multiphase and reactive flows at Eindhoven University of Technology and recipient of an ERC Starting Grant, has been involved in research on flows for many years and he notes the importance contribution made by TU/e in recent years: "At TU/e, we have a very active research community working on fluid flows. In Eindhoven, researchers are using their fluid dynamics expertise to develop novel solutions for the energy transition and the sustainable production of chemicals, but also for understanding the airborne spread of viruses and for developing ways to handle heat management in high-tech equipment. We are living in unique times where the recent developments in the capabilities of computer model predictions and, for instance, MRI flow imaging allow us to provide the fundamental basis that is essential for breakthroughs in all fields where fluid flow is inherently present."

Do you want to read the full report? You can do so at this link (in Dutch).

You can also find further information on the.