News: Schiphol tests water screen to tackle ultrafine particles

At Schiphol, we're working hard to reduce concentrations of ultrafine particles. In order to achieve that, we sometimes go off-the-beaten-path to find new solutions. One example is using a screen of water droplets to remove ultrafine particles from the air. Improved air quality is not only beneficial for our colleagues, but also for our local environment.

Published on: 27 February 2024

We do not yet know very much about ultrafine particles. What we do know is that they are produced by jet and diesel engines, and that they are potentially harmful to health. That is why we consider it important to continue reducing the amount of ultrafine particles in the air. We are doing that by electrifying more and more handling equipment and by seeing whether we can use water droplets to remove ultrafine particles from the air.

Spraying water

We drew inspiration from the mining and construction industries, where the method of spraying water to tackle (ultra)fine particles and thus prevent nuisance to the environment has been tried and tested. The idea is that ultrafine particles bind to the water droplets and then fall to the ground. We also carried out a study at Schiphol in 2022 using a water cannon. That worked to a certain extent, but more research was needed.

Special test setup

That's why a team of researchers went to Airport Twente where they were able to collect a lot of measurement data using a special test setup (see video below). Over the coming months we are going to be analysing this data together with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR). If it turns out that the theory works, we'll test the water screen in a practical and workable way in the operation. While aircraft are taking off, for example. That's something both our colleagues and our neighbours will reap the benefits of.


The water screen test is part of the TULIPS programme. In this European partnership, airports and other parties from inside and outside the aviation sector join forces with the aim of developing innovations to accelerate the sustainability of aviation. Schiphol is the pioneer of the programme for which the European Union has allocated €25 million.

More information

Would you like to find out more about what we're doing to reduce ultrafine particle emissions? Take a look at this website. You can find more information about the TULIPS programme here.

EN Co-funded by the EU POS