Recent Activity from TUDelft

The August issue of CRM_InnoNet’s quarterly newsletter, the Critical Raw Material Bulletin, featured the activities of TUDelft.  TUDelft have a wealth of expertise on product design and ask designers to consider the importance of the materials they choose at the design stage. Here we provide more details on TUDelft’s numerous activities in this area.

1. Representing CRM_InnoNet at a Franco-Dutch bi-lateral seminar in Paris

David Peck (Delft University of Technology- TU Delft) represented CRM_Innonet at the Franco-Dutch ‘Waste2Value’ seminar along with his colleague Maarten Bakker. The seminar was organized by the Netherlands Embassy in Paris and took place on 28 May, 2013.

In his opening address the Dutch Ambassador in Paris, Ed Kronenburg, said that it has become increasingly obvious that the existing global economic model, based on a linear economy, is no longer sustainable. Global changes have resulted in scarcity and strong price volatility of ‘critical’ materials.

A circular economy, in which materials can be reused through eco-design and repair offers a solution and innovation is the key.

In his presentation David highlighted the excellent substitution work CRM_InnoNet is undertaking to support these ideas by highlighting focus areas for new design thinking including:

  • Modularisation & Standardisation  - to allow replacement of certain modules
  •  Design for easier disassembly
  •  Production process efficiencies to minimise waste
  •  Designing to extend product life
  • Performance-based business models  -  lease-holding and bundling
  • Rethink economic incentives – shift the tax from labour / income towards non-renewable resources,
  • Provide a suitable set of international standards and regulation.

His Excellency the Ambassador added that the government of the Netherlands is promoting the approach of such a circular economy and also wants to explore the shifting of tax burden from individuals to materials.

In his concluding slide David made reference to the Dutch and French partners in CRM_InnoNet, namely; TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), CEA (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) and EMRS (European Materials Research Society). This was well received by the company and governmental representatives present.

2. Representing CRM_InnoNet at the Schmidt-MacArthur circular economy summer school and CE100 day in the Royal Institution London

Flora Poppelaars is building circular economy ideas into critical materials substitution strategies. Flora, a researcher in Integrated Product Design, recently started a fellowship that was awarded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship (that is Erik & Wendy Schmidt – Erik being of Google fame) was awarded to eleven business, design, and engineering graduate students from around the world to support student projects that develop and implement the concept of the circular economy.

A weeklong summer school, which started on 18 Junein London, initiated the consortium into the program and solidified the network. Flora attended the conference with her fellowship mentor, David Peck, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft.

Of key interest during the week, on Wednesday 19 June 2013, the Circular Economy 100 Annual Summit brought together global thought leaders, academics, companies and practitioners to provide a global wrap-up of the most current thinking on key circular economy topics.

Flora will be working with Vodafone to conduct her research.

3. Reporting on research on CRMs with UNU-StEP and Philips

Fabian Waterlet has been conducting research on critical raw materials (CRM’s) in products for the UNU StEP programme in co-operation with Philips. As the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) will be amended with more restrictive conditions for energy related products, it will have significant impact on industrial designers’ work. Several CRMs that constitute the basis for a large number of consumer products are under pressure and could be restricted by the future Ecodesign legislation.

The MEErP (Methodology for the Ecodesign of Energy-related Products) report published in 2011 will be used in future preparatory studies for measures under the recast of the Ecodesign Directive. In this report the word ‘reuse’ appears as one of the possible ways for the treatment of end-of-use stage products.

Reuse is one option available that will lead to an improved material loops, which in turn shall lead to further design for reuse. Currently no design guidelines exist which may facilitate a designer’s work when developing a product to be reused after the use-stage. Design for reuse implies design for assembly / dis assembly and design for repair / refurbish. Consequently, Fabian established ‘design for reuse’ principles based on relevant literature.

Next, an EEE consumer product provided by Philips Consumer Lifestyle was analysed, tested and disassembled to determine the potential assistance of the “design for reuse principles list” in the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of reuse. As one of the key design principles for reuse concerns material identification, the elements constituting the case study device were listed and compared with the CRM’s list established by the European Union. This phase of the project demonstrated that many valuable materials could be reused after the use-stage which could present opportunities for a range of business sectors.

For the report of Fabian’s findings, contact

4. Development of a serious game on CRM with Dutch industry – to be available to all

Katherine Whalen from IDE TU Delft has been engaged on a project which has a focus on designing and testing a serious game to create understanding of critical materials in a company product development environment. The serious game will provide theoretical as well as practical knowledge about designing with awareness of critical materials. The main part of the project consists of developing the material to be presented in the serious game and designing the form to present the information.

The objective of this project is to investigate what companies need to know about critical materials, how companies can learn this through the use of a serious game, and if this type of learning is a more effective strategy than a standard informative lecture or on-line information. Katherine is now finalising this research and testing the serious game with users. The work will report in early September.

To learn more about this project or to get a copy of this report, please contact Katherine Whalen,

5. MOOC developments and CRM

board game pic

This year TU Delft has been developing ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) on the edX-platform. A MOOC is an online course aiming at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants. edX is a non-profit platform for online education through which MIT, Harvard and others, make a range of courses accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access. The free courses are open to everyone, without prior education or entry examination. This provides a great way to disseminate CRM_InnoNet results.

David Peck has begun to develop a MOOC course that will detail the approaches that can be taken in designing products that take circular thinking as the starting point. The focus will be around designing for reuse and remanufacturing. There will be an emphasis on the need for product designers to consider the whole value chain in a resource constrained world. The course will include materials on the subject of ‘critical materials’.

For the range of free MOOCs available visit

For more information about this project please contact David Peck (

6. Journal publication on CRM from TUD IDE

In May of this year Andreas Köhler , Conny Bakker & David Peck published a paper in the European Journal of Engineering Education entitled ‘Critical materials: a reason for sustainable education of industrial designers and engineers’. In the paper the authors explored how developed economies have become highly dependent on a range of technology metals and also that stakeholders have warned of the impending scarcity of these critical materials.

Difficulties in materials supply can affect the high-tech industries as well as the success of sustainable innovation strategies that are based on sophisticated technology. Industrial designers and engineers should therefore increase their awareness of the limits in availability of critical materials. In the paper, it is argued that materials’ criticality can give a fresh impetus to the higher education of industrial design engineers. It is important to train future professionals to apply a systems perspective to the process of technology innovation, enabling them to thrive under circumstances of constrained material choices. The conclusions outline ideas on how to weave the topic into existing educational programmes of future technology developers.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information regarding this article please contact David Peck (

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