Circular Engineering Across Disciplines
2024 Edition - Reduction of carbon footprint in industry and beyond

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Let the recap movies from previous editions convince you

Circular Engineering Across Disciplines

Summer school CEAD

2024 Edition - Reduction of carbon footprint in industry and beyond

How much carbon is emitted to produce your t-shirt, meal or phone? The amount will depend on production and consumption choices. By making the right choices, industry and society in general can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and contribute to making the EU Green Deal come true to preserve our planet for future generations.

In this 2024 edition of the international summer school CEAD, we focus on low-carbon technologies and processes in various fields of research and industry. Scientists and engineers play a key role in this shift. With their knowledge and skills, these problem-solvers can assess and optimize the entire life cycle of products, services, and processes with innovative solutions with low carbon impact.
We also outline the broader social and economic context of such a technological shift. How to adapt our behavior? What about the social and economic implications?

Lectures, interactive workshops, and lab activities given by international experts in several inspiring research locations will boost your knowledge and know-how about the topic. International and interdisciplinary teamwork enhances your communication skills and makes you aware of the global importance of circular engineering. Company visits show how circular solutions are already being embraced today.

The summer school will take place from Sunday 21 (evening) to Friday 26 April 2024, on campus at Hasselt University (Belgium), followed by a virtual part to be completed at the latest 5 May 2024. The language of instruction is English.

Application is open from 15 November to 15 December 2023. All applicants will be informed about their selection in January 2024. University engineering/science students of bachelor or master level can apply. The selection is based on your application letter stating your motivation and your academic progress.

This summer school is an Erasmus+ Blended Intensive programme organized by the Faculty of Engineering Technology of Hasselt University in close collaboration with KU Leuven and the EURECA-PRO network. Participating students can apply for an Erasmus+ grant for short-term mobility at their home university.

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From Sunday April 21 (evening 8 p.m.) to Friday April 26 2024, each participant will take part in the following modules.

Carbon footprint reduction - from doing things right to doing the right thing
by prof. dr. ir. arch. Griet Verbeeck (Hasselt University)

Economic and environmental analysis of low carbon technologies
by prof. Sebastien Lizin (Hasselt University)

AI in industry: the good, the bad and the ugly
by prof. Nick Michiels and prof. Davy Vanacken (Hasselt University)

Circular thinking in polymer engineering
by prof. Oreski Gernot (Montanuniversität Leoben)

Decarbonizing the industrial: Let's rise to the Challenge
by prof. Fabrice Lemoine (université de Lorraine)

Better Batteries with Biochar - Mapping the electrochemical behaviour of biochar as anode material for more sustainable battery technology
by prof. Dries Vandamme (Hasselt University)

Testing the viability of carbon capture with AI
by prof. Mumin Enis Leblebici (Leuven University)

Company visit
to be determined

26 April-5 May 2024

  • Online student team meetings to prepare the written report
  • Written report on the teamwork
  • Quality survey

Carbon footprint reduction - from doing things right to doing the right thing

Carbon footprint reduction is a wicked problem. Yet as engineers, we tend to tackle it with technologies that are mostly centered around improving the energy efficiency of processes and products and shifting to renewable energy sources. However, as William Jevons already knew in 1865, technological progress that improves efficiency, results in a faster rate of resource utilization. So maybe this is not enough.

The aim of this workshop is not to get rid of efficiency and renewables, as they absolutely have their value. But carbon footprint reduction is so much more. Therefore, the aim is to broaden our vision and critically reflect on the solutions we are developing, so that what we develop has the right impact. You will be introduced in a hands-on way to new concepts and approaches that go beyond reducing negative impacts and help you create a positive impact.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will walk away with:
1 new insights into the position (and limitations) of efficiency and renewables on the road to carbon reduction.
2 new concepts and approaches that can be used in the development of solutions for carbon reduction.

Economic and environmental analysis of low carbon technologies

In this workshop you will be introduced to techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle analysis (LCA).

A TEA is a quantitative technology assessment method which allows verifying the impact of changes in technological input parameters on economic output parameters such as the net present value, of a levelized cost of electricity. TEAs can be used to compare the economic viability or costs across a set of technologies both at present and in the future. As such, they are invaluable for technology roadmapping purposes and the derivation of R&I targets. An LCA is a quantitative technology assessment method that quantifies potential environmental impacts resulting from a product over all of its life cycle stages. An LCA is often used to enable a hotspot analysis, in which the life cycle stage and/or unit processes that contribute most to a given environmental impact category are identified.
Both methods are confronted with uncertainty on the input parameters. Therefore, typically they involve sensitivity and scenario analyses to verify the robustness of the resulting findings.

In this workshop we will first present our work that has verified whether (1) bringing PV manufacturing (back) to Europe is desirable from an economic and environmental point of view and (2) design for disassembly leads to meaningful environmental benefits over the full life cycle of a ZEB. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to get more familiar with these types of analyses by recreating some of the results that were presented earlier.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will:
1 know of the basics of TEA.
2 know of the basics of LCA.
3 be able to apply the methods to a simplified (part of) a case.

AI in industry: the good, the bad and the ugly

This workshop delves into the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in reshaping the landscape of sustainability. AI opens up numerous opportunities in a broad range of sectors, promising innovative solutions to pressing sustainability challenges. These opportunities, however, also give rise to many questions on the social and economic implications of AI, as well as new challenges with regard to the environmental impact of training AI models.

This workshop confronts these challenges head-on, dissecting the intricacies of AI training and its carbon footprint, while also offering insights into practical solutions and broader implications. Participants in this course will engage in insightful discussions about the environmental and human trade-offs linked to AI adoption. Through real-world case studies in areas such as manufacturing and agriculture, attendees will gain a holistic understanding of the potential ecological benefits and drawbacks of AI.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will:
1 gain insights into the challenges of using AI as an engineer.
2 learn how to apply AI in a sustainable way in a practical application.

Circular thinking in polymer engineering

The workshop will discuss challenges and provide solutions for Circular Thinking in polymer technology meeting the sustainable development goals along the product life cycle. The workshop will focus on resource input and sustainable product designs, aiming at extended service life and additional functionalities such as design for recycling or design for repair.

A special topic will be the discussion of conflicting targets in product or material design. This will be discussed by the example of photovoltaics, where the polymers play a significant role in the quality, reliability but also recyclability of PV modules. Design for high reliability and good recyclability are to a great extent contradictory goals. Another example are complex multilayer food packaging films, that help to preserve food but are very difficult to recycle.

Another focus will be given to the discussion of recyclability of polymers and polymer products. The difference between theoretical, practical, and actual recyclability will be interactively discussed with common consumer products as examples. Finally, recent advances in recycling technology (mechanical and chemical recycling) will be discussed.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will walk away with:
1 an overview of relevant polymers and where polymers are used.
2 recognition that polymers are a highly valuable material class enabling and driving important technologies to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. electric vehicles, electronics, renewable energy, food and water safety, health….).
3 knowledge of how polymer recycling works and how big the influence of product design is on the recyclability.

Decarbonizing the industrial: Let's rise to the Challenge

The industrial sector's emissions constitute roughly 20% of global emissions and are notoriously difficult to reduce. In response to urgent climate concerns, decarbonizing this sector has become a crucial challenge in achieving the net-zero target by 2050. This lecture will delve into the primary drivers necessitating this transition and place them within the broader global context of energy. Utilizing interactive calculations from the MIT-developed EnRoad tool, attendees will gain insight into the complexities of this endeavor.

The lecture will commence by contextualizing the global energy landscape before delving into the intricacies of industrial emissions. It will explore key drivers behind the transition to a low-carbon, fossil-free industry, focusing on major emitters such as steel, cement, and chemical production. Concrete examples of decarbonization projects will be provided, with a special emphasis on decarbonizing the steel industry, addressing both energy and process emissions.

Additionally, strategies for CO2 removal, including carbon capture, storage, and reutilization, will be examined, as the pursuit of a net-zero scenario necessitates technological advancements in carbon removal. The importance of collaboration across sectors and stakeholders will be underscored, highlighting the need for coordinated action at various levels, including local, national, and European scales.

Ultimately, this lecture seeks to empower students with the knowledge and tools to drive meaningful change towards a decarbonized, resilient, sovereign, and sustainable industrial sector. It aims to inspire action and provide insights into the opportunities and challenges inherent in decarbonization initiatives, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

On completion of this workshop, you will walk away with:

1. Gaining insight into the current global energy landscape, including its associated emissions and their impact on the climate, as well as comprehending the primary drivers necessary to achieve the net-zero target by 2050.

2. Delving into the unique characteristics of decarbonizing the industrial sector.

3. Identifying and assessing various decarbonization strategies applicable to the industrial sector, encompassing enhancements in energy efficiency, the transition to low-carbon heat provision, the optimization of industrial processes for reduced emissions, the utilization of carbon capture and utilization technologies, and the adoption of electrification in industrial processes. Some insights regarding the transformative potential and barriers to the deployment of the technologies will be provided within a broad context.

Better Batteries with Biochar

Better Batteries with Biochar - Mapping the electrochemical behaviour of biochar as anode material for more sustainable battery technology

If we are to meet the pressing environmental challenges our planet faces, we need to find better ways to produce, store and consume energy. Renewable energy storage systems, such as batteries, will be indispensable to guarantee energy access that is both sustainable and affordable.

Current rechargeable batteries, for example those in our phones and laptops and in electric vehicles, are lithium-ion batteries. For multiple reasons, they are not ideally suited as energy storage devices for use in our homes and businesses. What we need is next-generation batteries that can store energy more efficiently, are safe to use, and are not expensive or environmentally harmful to produce.

This workshop explores the use of biochar-based materials in the development of next-generation batteries. Biochar is the by-product of the thermal decomposition of organic material— such as agricultural waste or plant or animal biomass—in the absence of oxygen. Such bio-based carbon precursors present a renewable, green, low-cost, and abundant alternative for current battery technologies and at the same time a valuable up-cycling route of waste materials. Despite its potential, we don’t fully understand the electrochemical behaviour of biochar and its relation to the properties of its feedstock. In this workshop, we hope to bridge this knowledge gap and make biochar a competitive alternative to currently used and explored battery electrodes.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will walk away with:
1 new insights in the role of biochar in anode materials for next-generation batteries.
2 knowledge of the basics of the electrochemical behaviour of biochar in relationship to the properties of its feedstock.

Testing the viability of carbon capture with AI

The carbon capture industry is expected to explode by 250 times in terms of capture capacity in the coming decades. This totally new heavy industry however is currently facing hindrances due to high capital and operating costs. The former research of Di Caprio and Leblebici uses AI tools to estimate the overall mass transfer constant from absorption vessel geometry.

This project will consider the exact reverse of our earlier research. We will try to design the absorber geometry by giving the algorithm a carbon source. Common carbon emission points will be used and we use search algorithms and the aforementioned models to estimate absorber size and thus an order of magnitude of the capital investments required for the point source. We aim to get at least the absorber volume, which is the main component defining the capital investment.

Upon completion of this workshop, you will walk away with:
1 basic knowledge of Python machine learning libraries.
2 insights in state-of-the-art carbon capture.
3 basic viability estimation of chemical unit operations.

Company visit

to be determined

Language + ECTS

Language of instruction



Equivalent to 3 ECTS

Learning outcomes and evaluation

General learning outcomes

Upon completion of the summer school CEAD 2024, participants walk away with:

  • new insights into the position (and limitations) of efficiency and renewables on the road to carbon reduction.
  • new concepts and approaches that can be used in the development of solutions for carbon reduction.
  • new knowledge on how AI can contribute in a sustainable way.
  • new insights in the green optimazation of materials, production and processes in different fields of industry.
  • a boost of their intercultural communication skills and critical thinking through international team work.
  • a stronger awareness of the global necessity and civic interest of the reduction of the carbon footprint.


  • Oral presentation and report of the group work
  • Attendance at all activities is mandatory


After successful completion of the summer school the participant receives a Certificate of 3 ECTS  (approx. 80-90 hours of total study load).

Application & selection

  • Application form with motivation and academic progress
  • Deadline: 15 December 2023
  • You can only apply for the complete on-site and virtual programme.
  • All applicants will be informed about their selection in January 2024.
  • Selection will be based on your motivation, study progress, study field, and gender to ensure interdisciplinarity and diversity of committed student teams with a general background in engineering and sciences.

Registration fee and budget

  • No registration fee
  • Welcome drink, lunches, a group dinner, and a cultural activity offered by the organization
  • Accommodation offered by the organization
  • Travel and visa costs, transport, and other meals at your own expense. Participants can apply for an Erasmus+ grant for short-term mobility at their home university to cover most of these costs.

Accommodation & Travel Info


Shared rooms with breakfast will be booked for you in Hasselt or Diepenbeek.

Travel info

Any booking of flights or other means of travelling before your official acceptance for the summer school is your responsibility.

Where are we

Hasselt University (UHasselt), Faculty of Engineering Technology (IIW), Campus Diepenbeek

Campus Diepenbeek

Faculty IIW

City of Hasselt

The city of Hasselt is only 4 km from campus Diepenbeek and has much to offer. Be sure to visit it.

Visit Hasselt

Coordination & Organisation

Academic coordination

Prof. dr. Bart Vermang (UHasselt)
Prof. dr. Ir. Eric Demeester (KU Leuven)

Administrative coordination and contact

Mrs. Karine Evers |


Faculty of Engineering Technology
UHasselt - KU Leuven
Agoralaan Buildings H and B
3590 Diepenbeek

In close collaboration with the faculties of Sciences and Architecture of Hasselt University and the EURECA-PRO partner universities of Leoben and Lorraine in the framework of an Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programme.

With the support of EURECA-PRO and Erasmus+.

Staff (to be finalised)

Dries Vandamme Hasselt University

Pejman Salimi Hasselt University

Enis Leblebici KU Leuven

Nick Michiels Hasselt University

Davy Vanacken Hasselt University

Sebastien Lizin Hasselt University

Gernot Oreski Polymer Competence Center Leoben University of Leoben

Griet Verbeeck Hasselt University

Fabrice Lemoine University of Lorraine

Alessandro Martulli

Haitham Abu Ghaida

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