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Over €11 million for UT’s Perspective programmes: lighter vehicles and reuse of raw materials

Over the next few years, two University of Twente consortia will be working on research into technological innovations with real economic potential that could help us to achieve a more sustainable world. The research projects are known as: ‘Reducing CO2 emissions by making vehicles lighter’ and ‘Better separation technology for the reuse of raw materials’. UT scientists Remko Akkerman (lighter vehicles) and Sissi de Beer (reuse of raw materials) are launching these two new research programmes as part of the Perspective programme and have been awarded a grant of over €11 million.

Perspective is a programme that challenges scientists to establish innovative new lines of research that can have a genuine economic and societal impact. Consortia are then formed that involve partnerships with the business community and social organisations. The programme has been set up by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate has made €22 million in funding available for it. A total of six consortia are being set up in the Netherlands, with 138 companies and social organisations contributing a total of €10 million of their own funding. The University of Twente will be working on ‘Reducing CO2 emissions by making vehicles lighter’ and ‘Better separation technology for the reuse of raw materials’.

‘Reducing CO2 emissions by making vehicles lighter’

Programme leader: Prof. Dr ir. Remko Akkerman (Faculty of Engineering Technology)
ENLIGHTEN ‐ Enabling Integrated Lightweight Structures In High Volumes

Remko Akkerman
“The road to a sustainable world is long and strewn with obstacles. ‘Enlighten’ aims to help us to overcome one of those obstacles. Hopefully this comes at just the right time.”

The lighter a vehicle is, the less fuel it consumes and the less CO2 is emitted. Lightweight materials that are strong enough to ensure passenger safety are also popular among manufacturers of cars and aircraft. Thermoplastic composites – fibre-reinforced plastics that soften when heated – are light, strong, easy to work with and easy to recycle. Certain components in aircraft fuselages and wings are already being made from this relatively new material. However, they are not yet in wider use.

The aim of ENLIGHTEN is to find a way to produce reliable entire structures using this material (in a predictable, reproducible and cost-effective way).

Participants: Airborne, Airbus, Aniform, Autodesk, Boeing, Boikon, Bosch, Cato, Composites NL, DSM, DTC, Engel, e‐Xstream, GKN/Fokker, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, JLR, KVE, M2i, Province of Overijssel, SAM|XL, SET Europe, Solvay, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, TNO‐BMC, Toray Advanced Composites, TPRC, University of Twente, University of Warwick, Victrex. 

Better separation technology for the reuse of raw materials

Programme leader: Dr Sissi de Beer (Faculty of Science and Technology)
ReCoVR: Recovery and Circularity of Valuable Resources

Sissi de Beer
“I am really grateful to have the opportunity to work with this fantastic team on the development of clean and energy-efficient separation technologies.”

The world’s growing population means that raw materials are becoming increasingly scarce. The Netherlands has therefore set itself the goal of achieving a circular economy by 2050, in which all raw materials are reusable and reused. This will require new separation technologies that can recover valuable materials from flows that would otherwise end up as waste. In this research programme, researchers will be working on new materials and coatings for electrically powered separation technologies that are more energy efficient, cleaner and more specific than current separation methods. They will focus on five application areas: water purification; isolating flavourings; recycling chemicals; recovering foods such as sugar and salt; and purifying proteins that are used in, among other things, the production of meat substitutes and high-protein dairy products. Within the UT, Sissi de Beer is working on this project with Mark Hempenius, Frederik Wurm, Boelo Schuur, Bastian Mei, Andre ten Elshof, Marie-Alix Pizzoccaro, Mieke Luiten-Olieman and Karin Schroën.

Participants: Avebe, ArcelorMittal, Aquabattery, Corbion, Dow Benelux BV, Firmenich, FTRJ, Greencovery, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Hollands Noorderkwartier Water Authority, Inopor-Rauschert, Institute for Sustainable Process Technology, Watercycle Research Institute, NL GUTS, Plastic Soup Foundation, Proxcys, Recell, Sustainable Food Initiative, Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, TenCate Outdoor Fabrics, TKI Agri-Food, TNO, Turtle Tree Labs, University of Twente, Wageningen University & Research, WaterCircle.be, Water Europe, Water Future, Aa and Maas Water Authority.

FOUR additional UT partnerships

In addition to the two main grants, the University of Twente is collaborating on four other projects within the Perspective programmes: SMART Organ-on-Chip ‘Build your own organ on a chip’ by, among others, Albert van den Berg (TNW), Andries van der Meer (TNW) and Marcel Karperien (TWN). MEGAMIND ‘Smart electricity grid using cooperating systems’ with, among others, Johann Hurink (EEMCS). And AquaConnect ‘Self-sufficient in freshwater supply’ by, among others, Wiebe de Vos (TNW) and Rob Lammertink (TNW). And FREE 'Optical wireless superhighways' by, among others, Pepijn Pinkse (TNW), Paul Havinga (EEMCS), Hans van den Berg (EEMCS) and Alex Chiumento (EEMCS).

Six consortia in the Netherlands

The way in which the consortia are composed is particularly characteristic of the Perspective programme: the projects include all actors necessary to develop useable solutions in practice. For example, the programme working on future smart electricity grids not only involves technology companies and technical service providers, but also the three largest Dutch network operators. Similarly, in the programme that aims to tackle the issue of shortages of freshwater, researchers are working with engineering firms and water companies, as well as water authorities and local government. The shared involvement of several universities in each project also strengthens the partnerships.

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
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