Prof. Dr. Ir. Jules van Lier

My name is Jules van Lier and I’m full professor “Wastewater Treatment/ Environmental Engineering”, as well as Head of the Section Sanitary Engineering, at the Delft University of technology. As part of my employment, I hold a 0.2 fte seconded position at IHE Delft, Institute for Water Education. I started my academic career at Wageningen University and Research (WUR), where I received both my MSc and PhD. I was employed at WUR from 1988 – 2008 and became appointed (personal chair) as professor in Anaerobic Treatment Technology in 2005. In the period 1997 –2005 I also directed the Lettinga Associates Foundation (LeAF), a small, knowledge intensive, consultancy firm.

My research interest comprises the development of cost-effective technologies for (waste)water treatment, recovering resources such as water, nutrients, biogas, elements from waste streams and my main research lines comprise:

  • Biotechnologies for (waste)water treatment, from both municipal and industrial origin.
  • Anaerobic treatment for wastewater, sludges, and slurries
  • Sludge bed systems, and (anaerobic) membrane bio-reactor systems
  • Water reclamation systems after secondary treatment.
  • Resource recovery from waste(water) streams: water, nutrients, biogas, elements, organics.
  • Closing water cycles in industries and sewage water recovery for irrigated agriculture.

Research projects are focused on closing water cycles in industries and sewage water recovery for irrigated agriculture.

Want to know more about High-rate Anaerobic Wastewater Treatment?

Check out and subscribe to our online Professional Education course!

A picture containing text, screenshot, panorama Description automatically generated 




During my academic career, I specialised in Anaerobic Treatment Technology and (co-) published about 300 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and over 600 publications in conference proceedings and scientific books from 1988 onwards and hold some patents. Thus far, I promoted 28 and co-promoted 5 PhD students and I’m supervising 15 PhD students at this moment.

Next to my academic work, I’m active in the International Water Association (IWA), for which I chaired the Anaerobic Digestion Specialist group between 2001 and 2009. In 2011, I became nominated member of the IWA Fellow program.

Research vision on the treatment residual polluted streams.

Residual waters require adequate treatment prior to discharge for the prevention of environmental pollution and the protection of human health. Treatment efficiency, energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness are important criteria determining technology choice. However, currently, the views on “wastewater” are changing, recognising the value of resources that were formerly denominated as pollutants. Residual waters from households and industries carry resources of quantitative interest, such as energy, nutrients, non-defined organics, salts and of course the water itself. For organically polluted streams, anaerobic treatment technologies stabilise the discharged waters, meanwhile the organics are converted to energy-rich biogas. However, instead of biogas, the organics in specific waste streams may be converted to chemical building blocks for the bio-based economy, e.g. volatile fatty acids. More concentrated streams are converted in solid state digesters in which novel technologies further explore the enhanced methanation of refractory substrates by enhanced hydrolysis processes. Other technologies focus on upgrading the biogas to natural gas and conventional digester systems are coupled to membrane technologies for process intensification and effluent quality improvement. In various PhD research, anaerobic technologies are being further researched in cooperation with leading Dutch technology providers. Subsequent water reclamation is of worldwide interest, particularly in those applications where the reclaimed water may replenish depleting water resources or where competitive water claims can be prevented. Large water reuse applications are even at full scale in The Netherlands.

In the urban sector, reclamation of water and other resources is of increasing interest. Centralised solutions are being developed, whereas decentralised applications are further explored. The multiple water use approach may give an answer to the ever-increasing concern of accumulating micro-pollutants in the environment.  PhD students are researching cost-effective reclamation technologies as well the transport systems that could be used with separately collected, or up-concentrated, slurries. Science, engineering, and mathematical modelling are the general approaches use in our research.

Jules van Lier


Read my Story of Science