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Towards a circular economy by bridging science and industry

In 2019 Amandine Codou interchanged her postdoctoral fellowship in Canada for a role as scientist at TNO’s Brightlands Materials Center in the Lightweight automotive research program. There she tunes and supports the development of recycling technologies applied to post-industrial and post-consumer thermoplastic composites from the automotive sector in assignment of manufacturers. In this way she has direct influence on creating a more sustainable future. “My work bridges science and industry.”

“Originally, I come from the Gulf of Saint Tropez, in the south of France. I got my PhD in Polymer Physic and Chemistry at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and went to Canada, Ontario, for a post-doc for three years. In Canada my focus was on developing biobased composite formulations for the automotive and agricultural sectors. One year ago, I moved to the Netherlands for a job at TNO. Here my main objective is to tune and support the development and recycling of thermoplastic composites for re-use in various sectors.”

Towards a circular economy

“Within TNO we work according to the circular 4R approach: reduce, re-use, recycle, and recover materials. At Brightlands Materials Center (BMC) we focus on re-use, reduce and recycle. Reduce means trying to decrease the amount of material to the minimum by weight reduction or life extension. When a component of a car or the car itself for instance is end-of-life, we look at a part if it can be re-used or reshaped for another purpose. When the part is too weak or damaged, we develop technologies to recycle it into a new structural material for use in another part.”

Using my experience for a variety of challenges

“In Canada, where I fulfilled a postdoctoral fellowship at the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Center, I was more focused on research. My work at TNO is more comprehensive, it bridges science and industry. We work on a variety of assignments for a variety of customers which means that I work on a broad range of projects. We face new challenges every day and I like using my knowledge for the service of different companies. Moreover, TNO  is very much dedicated to personal development and offers an extensive network and lots of expertise that I can appeal to.”

Design, materials and technologies

“An example of an assignment we work on is developing a technology to recycle production waste of a door panel for a car manufacturer. We then look at the materials constituents and propose new technologies to mechanically recycle the parts such as size reduction, processing and injection molding and come up with a competitive alternative showing the highest performance as possible. Our focus in these projects is also on plastic flow modelling, and understanding the interaction of plastics and other materials such as metal.”

Really diverse job

“My work is really diverse. It includes defining and acquiring new projects, supervising the research assistants and students, writing publications about new findings, presenting these at conferences and more. What makes me enthusiastic is when I can do something that has never been done before. At TNO Brightlands Materials Center I have the opportunity to build an entirely new recycling lab which will be in continuous development in collaboration with partners.”  

Central position and excellent infrastructure

“Most of my time I work at the Brightlands Material Center in Geleen in the south of the Netherlands. Sometimes I also work at the Eindhoven office which is located at High Tech Campus. I can then go to work by bike as me and my Dutch partner live in the center of Eindhoven. He works for a company that is located in the Rotterdam Harbour. We chose Eindhoven as our place of residence because of its central position and excellent connections when it comes to roads and public transport.”

International city, high-quality facilities and easy to connect

“Moreover, Eindhoven houses a high concentration of tech and IT companies which makes it a very international city. Everyone here knows everyone and that makes it easy to collaborate and connect. Furthermore, Eindhoven has a lot of facilities. A good example is the wide range of restaurants and the great variety in food the city offers. I am a real foodie, I love all the different food cultures you can find in Eindhoven, take the Down Town Gourmet Market for instance, an indoor market that houses 21 individual eateries.”

Easy to settle in

“Moving from Canada to Eindhoven felt good to us as the European culture makes us feel at home. Practically the process was easy, no need to get a work permit for Schengen citizens, everyone speaks English here and the fact that I can directly fly from Eindhoven Airport to Nice to visit my family to me is a great perk. If you are an international considering moving to Eindhoven, I would only encourage you.”