• SENSE Research Cluster XII: Sustainable use and reuse of energy, material and resources - Cradle to Cradle approach

    There is a widespread demand for sustainable technological systems. It is a challenge to apply principles from bio-cycles, e.g. complete reuse of materials fueled by sustainable energy, in man-made production processes. Concepts like industrial ecology and the Cradle to Cradle approach are strategies to find sustainable solutions. Participants in this cluster explore possibilities and pitfalls of these strategies.

    This research field focuses on technology and innovation in relation to production processes and production chains. Researchers develop methods for technology evaluation, such as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Technology Assessment (TA). Assessment and comparison of (international) production chains has a high scientific complexity. Sustainable technological systems are of high societal relevance. Participants in this SENSE Research Cluster strive for scientific excellence, combined with clear societal involvement.

    Featuring subjects, mechanisms and methods that are being developed and applied in this SENSE Research Cluster are, for example:

    • opportunities and limitations of technological innovations
    • opportunities and pitfalls of the Cradle to Cradle approach, by confronting such an approach with methods like Life Cycle Analysis
    • development of industrial production cycles, in analogy with biological cycles

    We welcome experts in the field of
    sustainable use and reuse of energy, material and resources to participate in this research cluster to exchange knowledge and stimulate new innovative developments (if you are not a member of the SENSE Research School but involved with this subject, then you are still welcome to enroll and participate in this research cluster).

    To read more about the SENSE research clusters in general, click HERE.

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    Coordinators and experts


    • Vacant

    SENSE key experts:

    • Prof. Henk Moll (RUG-IVEM)
    • Prof. Gert Spaargaren (WU-ENP)
    • Prof. Adri van den Brink (WU-LAR)
    • Dr. Bas van Vliet (WU-ENP)
    • Prof. Roy Brouwer (VU-IVM-EE)
    • Dr Walter Vermeulen (UU)

    Contact information:

    For more information about this research cluster, please contact Dr. Monique Gulickx (

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      To illustrate the urgency and relevance of new developments in this field, below we present some of the emerging research questions that are currently challenging both science and society in the research domain of SENSE Research Cluster XII:

      1. What is the long-term contribution of energy- efficient technology to the realization of deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?
        Scientific and societal relevance: Most modeling studies show that until 2030, about half of the reductions in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have to come from energy efficiency. After 2030, the role is less clear. This is primarily due to a lack of understanding on how technology will develop and how this will affect energy demand. While many studies exist on future energy conversion and generation technologies, few exist on energy demand and use. This question tries to fill that gap. Addressing this question not only includes technology assessment (TA), but also thermodynamic analyses, economics, experience curves and other tools. This makes a multi-disciplinary approach essential.
      2. What is the potential for bio-productive systems that are serving more integrally the needs for food, feed, biomaterials and bio-energy? How will climate change influence the production, utilization and competition of bio-fuel crops?
        Scientific and societal relevance: The competition for land to satisfy our need for food, feed, materials and energy seems to become very fierce. Looking for bio-productive systems that are able to serve more of these needs together (or consecutively) may identify possibilities for enlarging the renewable supply of materials and energy. The impact of climate change on the production and utilization of bio-fuel crops, and consequently on competition with food crops, adds to the urgency of this research.
      3. What is the future contribution of bio-based materials to a more sustainable development of society?
        Scientific and societal relevance: Generally, the need to shift to renewable resources is seen as an important part of the drive towards a sustainable society. A prime example of this is the use of biomass for energy generation. However, the same biomass resource is needed for food and material-production (e.g. lumber, paper). New bio-based materials are developed to replace the fossil-fuel based materials such as plastics. We need to better understand the trade-offs between the different demands lace on the biomass resource, in order to optimize the contribution we can expect from this resource. This includes a better understanding of the characteristics of biomass resources, environmental impacts of production and use, the trade-offs between resource and energy use, as well as the interdependencies (e.g. recycling of paper frees up biomass for energy). A thorough analysis of these aspects is needed to evaluate the claims made on the biomass resource and availability, and to optimize its use.
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        Here you will be able to find interesting articles, links to books that are worth reading, presentations that caught your attention, etc. To suggest items that should be placed here, please follow the instructions mentioned below
        or send an email to the (technical) coordinators.

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          Add a document to the Library

          Do you have any interesting articles, reports or other documents that you want to share within this research cluster? You can add the by clicking on Upload Documents below. Please note that your document will not be visible in the library immediately, because it first has to be approved by the coordinator. You can also contact him if you would like your suggested document to be brought under our attention in a different way or if you would like the document to appear differently in the library (there are some options available for that).

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            Discussion forum

            In this forum topics related to cluster I can be discussed, varying from scientific issues to organizational matters. The forum is very easy to use.

            To enter the forum, click on Forum RC XII below. You will go to the overview page of the forum, where you can see all existing discussions. If you click on a discussion title, you will enter the discussion. You can read all posts and you can also respond to them, by clicking Reply.

            To add a new discussion topic, you can click on Add a new discussion topic on top of the overview page. Please make sure that your new discussion is really new and does not overlap with existing discussions, otherwise the forum will get messy.

            The forum is maintained by the technical coordinator of the research cluster, who will remove any inappropriate contributions to the discussions.

            Please note the following!

            Everyone who enrolls in this course, is automatically subscribed to this forum and will receive e-mail notifications of every post on the forum. If you do not wish to be subscribed to the forum, you can click Unsubscribe from this forum in the top right corner of the forum overview page.

            If you do not want to receive too many notifications, you can adapt the forum settings for your account. To do so, follow these steps:
            a. Click on your username, which is always visible in blue in the bottom left corner of the page. You will go to your personal profile.
            b. Click Edit profile.
            c. Click Show advanced.
            d. In the field E-mail digest type you can now choose one of the three options: standard - notification of every post; daily an e-mail of all posts in full text; daily one e-mail with the titles of all posts. If there are no posts at all, you won’t get a summary e-mail either.
            e. You can also adapt other settings if you like.
            f. Scroll down and choose Update profile to activate your new settings.

            If you want to give feedback on the functioning of the forum or group page in general, then you are most welcome to leave a post in the discussion Technical feedback. The SENSE team will keep an eye on this discussion and will try to process your feedback as good as possible.