Tom Sleutels

Scientific project manager


My ambition in research is to use microorganisms and renewable electricity to recover energy and resources to make processes cleaner. To do so effectively, I want to understand these processes from a fundamental point of view, but I also actively cooperate with industry to find applications. As this requires many disciplines, I like to do this as part of a group of people with a variety of backgrounds. Besides my research experience, I have experience in writing and coordinating European project proposals.


MSc, Bioprocess Engineering, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 2004PhD, Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 2010

Research interests

(Bio)electrochemistry, industrial biotechnology, bioprocess engineering, thermodynamics of microbial conversions

Selected list of publications

(Full list: Google Scholar)

  • L Caizán-Juanarena, C Borsje, T Sleutels, D Yntema, C Santoro, I Ieoropoulos, F Soavi, A ter Heijne. ”Combination of bioelectrochemical systems and electrochemical capacitors: Principles, analysis and opportunities” (2019) Biotechnology Advances, 107456
  • M Dopson, G Ni, T Sleutels, ”Possibilitiesfor extremophilic microorganisms in microbial electrochemical systems” (2015) FEMS microbiology reviews, fuv044
  • T Sleutels; A ter Heijne, CJN Buisman; HVM Hamelers, ”Bioelectrochemical Systems: an outlook for practical application” (2012) ChemSusChem 5 (6) 1012-1019
  • T Sleutels, HVM Hamelers, RA Rozendal, CJN Buisman. ”Ion transport resistance in Microbial Electrolysis Cells with anion and cation exchange membranes” (2009) International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 34(9): 3612-3620
  • BE Logan, D Call, S Cheng, HVM Hamelers, T Sleutels, AW Jeremiasse, RA Rozendal. ”Microbial electrolysis cells for high yield hydrogen gas production from organic matter” (2008) Environmental Science and Technology 42: 8630-8640.

Towards an economy of value preservation | By Niels Faber


The realisation of a circular economy has thus far unfolded under the assumption that it would fit within existing economic arrangements. In practice, we witness many circular initiatives struggling to give shape to their ambitions, let alone develop to maturity. These past months, various material recycling organisations terminated their activities, seeing virgin alternatives from other parts of the world flooding the market at prices against they cannot compete. If the transition towards a circular economy (i.e. an economy of value preservation) is to be taken seriously, a new perspective on value in our economic system seems unavoidable, as the rewriting of the rules of the economic game. At this moment, current perceptions of value stand in the way of this transition both at micro as well as macro levels. Several contours for a collective exploration of new directions of value and economic configuration that foster circular transition will be addressed.

Searching Innovation for the Common Good | By Cees Buisman


In his key note he will conclude after a life of innovations that it is impossible that humanity will stay within the save planetary boundaries with innovation only. We should be more critical about the behaviour of the rich population in the world and more critical about new innovations that prove to be dangerous, like the PFAS crisis shows at this moment. In his keynote he will investigate how to look at the world that can stay within the save planetary boundaries, how should we change ourselves? It is clear if we only talk about the words of science and systems we miss the essential words of how we should cooperate and change ourselves. And his search for coherent save innovations. Which innovations will be save and will lead to a fair and sustainable world? And will lead to a world we want to live in.

Future-fit economic models: What do they have in common – how can they join forces? | By Christian Felber


There is a growing number of new sustainable, inclusive, cohesive, participatory, just and humane economic models. A possible next step in the discourse about them is the comparative analysis in order to find out key commonalities, potential synergies, and “requirements” for a future-fit economic model. The author and initiator of the Economy for the Common Good provides an overview of these „new sustainable economic models“ and compares them according to underlying values, principles, and practical ways of implementation. The keynote addresses the cooperative spirit of the conference and prepares the ground for its public highlight on the eve of June 3rd, the round table with representatives of diverse future-fit economic models.

The era of postgrowth economics | By Matthias Olthaar


The scientific debate on whether economies should always continue to grow increasingly becomes a political and societal debate. On the one hand further growth for the most affluent countries seems neither possible nor valuable, but on the other hand there is still lack of understanding and knowledge what a non-growing economy should look like and could best be governed. In this lecture we discuss various policy measures that can be realistically implemented, take into account government finances and aim at a higher quality of life despite a non-growing economy.

Democratic principles for a sustainable economy | By Lisa Herzog


Democracy is under pressure, and less and less able to stir the economy into a sustainable direction. Therefore, to stabilize democracy and to make possible the socio-ecological transformation of the economy, democratic principles need to be implemented directly in the economy. This is not only a matter of morality, but also has practical advantages. Democratizing the economy can increase legitimacy and take advantage of the “knowledge of the many” to accelerate the transformation. Democratic practices, especially deliberation, allow bringing together different forms of knowledge, which is crucial for the local implementation of principles of social and ecological sustainability. This talk explores what this idea means in more concrete terms, from democratic participation in the workplace to the democratization of time.

Market, state, association, and well-being. An historical approach | By Bas van Bavel


Over the past decades, markets have conventionally been seen as the best instrument to stimulate economic growth and enhance prosperity and well-being. The automatic link between markets and economic growth is increasingly questioned, however, as well as the automatic link between economic growth and enhancement of well-being. This has led to attempts to capture well-being development more directly than through GDP per capita figures and has produced a more variegated picture of well-being growth. Also, this has led to a shift of focus to other coordination systems than the market, as primarily the state but increasingly also the association. Analyses of the historical record suggest that especially the latter could be a vital component in future well-being.