Fluid dynamics good for 19,000 jobs, but funding lags

More than 19,000 people work on flows in Dutch industry. The export of products and services in the field of fluid dynamics provides great added value for the economy and society. This is evident from the report ’Flow to the Future in the Netherlands’, that was presented to members of the House of Parliament (Tweede Kamer) in the Hague on 6th June. From the University of Twente, Prof Detlef Lohse is one of the initiators of the report.

Fluid dynamics is the science of moving fluids, gases and particles and 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 generally somewhat unknown technology. It appears that more than 19,000 people work on fluid dynamics in Dutch industry and that fluid dynamics contributes 11.5 billion euros to the Dutch economy every year. Fluid dynamics is therefore of crucial importance for solving future societal challenges. In the report ’Flow to the Future in the Netherlands’, which was commissioned by the J.M. Burgerscentrum , the national research school for fluid mechanics, the gross added value is calculated at 130,000 euros per employee. More than 75% of the fluid mechanics industry exports its products and services.

The report ’Flow to the Future in the Netherlands’ was presented to the Higher Education & Science spokespersons in the House of Parliament on 6th June. The report comes at an important time. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy is working on determining the most important key technologies for the future of the Netherlands. And the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is also working on a futures study at the initiative of Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf.


"Fluid mechanics sometimes fall through the cracks: at OCW people see it more as a technology, at Economic Affairs it is seen as a scientific discipline. Fluid dynamics is therefore structurally underfunded in the Netherlands, while we are demonstrably among the top on a European scale," says Professor Detlef Lohse (University of Twente), who recently received his third Advanced Grant from the European Research Council ERC.


Professor Ruud Henkes, director of the Burgerscentrum: "Internationally, the Netherlands has been regarded as a world leader in fluid dynamics for more than a century. It seems as if other countries appreciate the important Dutch contributions more than the Netherlands itself." With the report ’Flow to the Future in the Netherlands’, the Burgerscentrum wants to highlight not only the quality but also the importance of fluid dynamics. The report contains appealing examples of results in the areas of climate, energy transition, health, high-tech, environment, agriculture and food. "It is precisely the breadth in the applications of fluid mechanics that seems to be our bottleneck," says Henkes, "the field really transcends top sectors and missions."