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RI 2017-2018 Student Project Groups

To bring the potential of interdisciplinarity to life, students will embark in mixed teams on a so called Student Project Group (SPG); diagnosing, analysing, designing, implementing and evaluating (Intervention Cycle) a real life innovative case.

Environmental Impact and Offshore Transfer

Stakeholder: Ampelmann
University: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Academic Supervisor: T. H. (Timo) van Balen

Offshore transfers of people and cargo can be precarious (e.g., unbalanced cranes, climbing by rope ladder) and prohibitively expensive (e.g., flying in through chopper). Ampelmann is an innovative company from Delft that strongly improves the safety, cost-efficiency and reliability of offshore transfers by producing walkways and cranes with state of the art motion control technologies. The walkways and cranes are leased to clients and temporarily placed on board a vessel.
      In a recent initiative employees mapped the CO2 footprint of the company’s flights, since the company has offices and clients all over the world, with people flying daily. The information produced by this initiative led to the introduction of measures to minimize the CO2 footprint of employees’ flights. This standalone project made the company realize that they could start more initiatives to improve their environment impact if only they knew where to start.
      The initial problem for Ampelmann is all about “knowing” what their environmental impact is, before they can act on it. Your job is to help Ampelmann move forward responsibly and find out how their environmental impact can and should be measured, where and how to gather data, and to provide actionable insights and recommendations. 

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Sustainable Carpet Tiles

Stakeholder: Interface
University: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Academic Supervisor: Dr. ir. H. J. (Henk) de Vries

Interface (Scherpenzeel) produces carpet tiles. They intend to introduce a new carpet tile that is more sustainable while providing the high product quality their current tiles have. The new tile requires new production methods for which new equipment is needed, so the conversion is expensive. And how will the market react – do customers prefer the new tile or rather existing ones?
      Your SPG has to give the company an underpinned advice about how to make this sustainable carpet tile a commercial success, and if any concessions to the sustainability aspects are needed – how to balance the commercial and the sustainability goals? 

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Data Responsibility

Stakeholder: Centre for Innovation – Josje Spierings
University: Leiden University
Academic Supervisor: T. J. (Thomas) Baar

There is increased pressure on civil society organisations to openly publish and share their operational data. This data could arguably inform policy making and help to address the needs of affected populations more directly. However, this data often contains sensitive information about these communities often living in poor conditions. 
     In this SPG, you will try to develop a policy for effective data sharing between different civil society organisations to support decision making for sustainable development. 

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Virtual Empathy

Stakeholder: Centre for Innovation – Jeanine
University: Leiden University
Academic Supervisor:
T. J. (Thomas) Baar

Increasingly our lives are mediated online, and take place in digital environments. With the rise of virtual reality, it is even possible to simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. Virtual reality has many different application areas, ranging from gaming and entertainment, to education and health care. But what happens when actors look around in an artificial world? How does it effect our emotions and interactions when we engage in a virtual world? 

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Online Learning | Online learning on sensitive topics for innovation in sustainable development and humanitarian aid

Stakeholder: Centre for Innovation - Monique Snijder
University: Leiden University
Academic Supervisor:
T. J. (Thomas) Baar

Online learning is growing fast; helping people to learn about any topic in their own time and at their own pace, not being restricted by any physical location. The high accessibility of online learning makes it easier to reach large numbers of people and contribute to sustainable development and humanitarian aid on a local level.

Within these developments, there are different tensions and challenges emerging:

  • The participant’s privacy versus a safe online environment
  • Reaching large numbers of people versus sensitive information
  • Facilitating learning versus conducting research and collecting data

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Biomass Fuels and Fluidized Bed Reactors: The Future of Renewable Energy Production?

Stakeholder: Barry Fitzgerald (TU Delft – 3ME) - https://bwscience.com/
University: TU Delft
Academic Supervisor: Prof. dr. mr. ir. N. (Neelke) Doorn

Biomass energy, as derived from biomass fuels, is a domain of renewable energies that is nowadays the subject of extensive research and implementation. Biomass fuels, both solid and liquid, can be derived from the processing of biomass pellets in industrial apparatus such as fluidized bed reactors. These fuels can then be used to power industrial transportation such as haulage trucks or ships. There are obvious benefits in using biomass energy such as relieving some of society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Nonetheless, biomass energy presents social and ethical challenges regarding its implementation and its quality as a renewable energy source. There are issues with the scalability of biomass fuels and fluidized bed reactor construction, the impact of biomass energy on climate change, the extent of the carbon footprint, the use of agricultural lands for the production of biomass fuels and the ethical issues of biofuels.
      As we strive for a greener, more renewable energy society, the prospective role of biomass energy as a primary source of energy merits societal, innovative and ethical appraisal. The aim of this project is to present a framework evaluating current biomass energy, present possible suggestions for improvement or review of biomass procedures and outline alternative protocols that would benefit society and the environment.

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Responsible Innovation in Thermoelectric Materials for Society and Iron Man

Stakeholder: Barry Fitzgerald (TU Delft – 3ME) - https://bwscience.com/
University: TU Delft
Academic Supervisor:
Prof. dr. mr. ir. N. (Neelke) Doorn

Modern society is characterized by a reliance on innumerable electronic devices. Mobile phones, portable gaming consoles, GPS watches and flat screen TVs all consume electricity and in the process produce waste heat.  Thermoelectric materials can be used to capture this waste heat and convert it into electricity. Thus, far thermoelectric materials have seen limited use in society. For example, the company GenTherm have integrated thermoelectric materials in the exhaust systems of cars to recycle waste heat while NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is currently on the surface of Mars, is powered by a thermoelectric device that generates electricity from the heat produced by the decay of radioactive plutonium. A recent report suggests that the thermoelectric material industry will be worth more than $750 million.
     One of the key issues with thermoelectric materials is their efficiency, which currently stands at approximately 10%. In practical terms this is low when compared to the efficiency of fossil fuels. Materials conventionally used in thermoelectric materials includes bismuth telluride, which are rare earth metals and expensive to extract from natural compounds. Recently organic materials have been suggested as an alternative material for thermoelectric materials.
     The choice of material for the future generation of efficient thermoelectric devices will have implications for applications, processing, up‐scaling and business development as well as environmental and ethical standpoints. The aim of this project is to develop a framework for assessing feasible material options for thermoelectric materials. Such a framework could have implications for the use of thermoelectric materials in current wearable technologies such as smart watches as well as possible future wearable technologies such as the Iron Man suit. Remember Tony Stark’s superhero invention is ultimate wearable technology but also potentially produces vast amounts of waste thermal energy!

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Urban Farming

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Academic Supervisor: Dr. ir. H. J. (Henk) de Vries

Traditionally, agriculture is for rural areas. However, initiatives are taken to integrate forms of horticulture in cities. Technological innovations enable such multifunctional use of urban space. This development is triggered by the competing claims on scarce space, sustainability aspects, and consumer demand for fresh food. Your SPG investigates this trend and explores the feasibility of urban farming in the Netherlands or, more specifically, in a city still to be chosen.

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Sustainable weed

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam
Academic Supervisor: Dr. ir. H. J. (Henk) de Vries

In the Netherlands, use of weed and sales of small portions of it are legally allowed but production is forbidden. Several political parties suggest legalisation of the production chain. Consumer satisfaction depends on taste, smell, percentage of THC and purity. These have to be managed throughout the supply chain. Sustainability within this chain may be an additional issue. Your SPG investigates to which extent stakeholder see a need to add this attribute and how it can be managed.