TechBlick 03 - Ali [EN]

So my name is Jos and I’m working on research in circular economy and automotive sector. And I would like to know your point of view. If you accept, I’m going to record our conversation, transcribe it and put to transcription with a pseudonym, not your real name, in a depository repository of text documents that will be used for the research. If you do this and you change your mind and no longer want to participate, get in touch with us and we will immediately remove your interview from the repository. I’m leaving you an information sheet with contact information after the interview, so please tell me your name and that you are accept.

I’m Ali Shakeri and I accept.

Thank you. Ali. So the first question, can you tell me a bit about your educational and professional background and interests?

Yes, I’ve been a professor at Purdue and before that at University of California for the last 25 years or so. And my area of research is in the area of smart films with applications in agriculture, food, health care. One of the areas we are working at Purdue is to bring together people from materials, devices, all the way to system integration and applications. We work closely with our application schools in agriculture, in food science, veterinary medicine and so on. And I guess I’m here in order to understand better what are the advances in the field and how we can connect better our researchers to have broader commercial impact.

What is your area of expertise?

The area of expertise at Purdue know I’m representing a Smart consortium, which brings together faculty from materials from electrical mechanical engineering all the way to data analytics, computer science. My own background is in the area of in related to this, in the area of characterization and if in-line characterization of of smart films.

The theme of this conference is the future of Electronics reshaped. What does the idea of reshaping electronics for the future mean to you?

What I consider this is that, you know, we know how silicon and the silicon industry have had major changes in our lives by broadening the electronic to wider areas, by printing. The idea is that we can get connectivity and sensing over a wider range, and so we can basically realize what is the idea behind Internet of Things. That’s how I look at it. So how the future will be the success of electronics or elements that work with humans? The question is how we can get things about environment, about soil, about water, and how we can use it actually to make a more sustainable future. One of the big areas, for example, for us is electronic, have not been introduced as much to understand what happens in the soil, what happened in the water with all the pollutions with silicon based is too expensive, but with printed one could reimagine what could be the smart agriculture. Food packaging is another example. So these are new areas where electronics did not have an impact, and we hope we could enable a more intelligent decisions for circular economy.

What do you think is the relationship between electronics and sustainability?

Well, I mean there’s two relationship. One is electronics is more pervasive. It’s more widely used if we are not careful. The same way we develop lots of traditional electronics, then it becomes a waste and problem. So that’s electronic itself. How should be developed in a way from the beginning that we have the circular economy in mind. But the second part of it is with this type of IoT and sensing, we should be able to have data driven decisions about how things could be done, and that could be an opportunity.

Can you define a circular economy in your own words?

Well, I think the circular economy, the way I look at it, is how future generations will have the similar access to resources and minerals and the and the environment that we are benefiting from. And this is not reduced. The circular economy is every time we develop a product, we think about every element of that. How much of it can be reused, can be recycled. And can be repurposed, whatever. It makes sense.

Do you participate in a circular economy yourself in any aspect of your life?

So when we work on the development of novel sensors, we are working with colleagues who are basically using more elements that can be recycled or biodegradable. Biodegradability is a major factor because often in electronics we need to have the performance, but if we are not careful, it’s easy to use elements that are never biodegradable. So we definitely make the choices, especially since we work in applications in ag and food. This is a real must. We don’t have a choice.

Do you think electronics can play a role making the car industry more sustainable?

That’s a good question, I guess. In general, transportation is going toward more electrification. And so there is this element of going from internal combustion engine to electrification. So whatever we can do in the supply chain of batteries and so on is essential. That’s not necessarily electronic. You know, the sensing part of it is more in the area of the energy sources and energy conversion. But on the other hand, the electric cars are simpler to make and less number of parts. So maybe the design of a circular economy car could be more possible with this transition that we are doing.

What can the automotive industry do to promote circular economy, in your opinion?

What to promote? What they should do to promote? Well, I think what happened is that. The automotive has been really have major factor of setting up standards. And I think what the motive industry could do when a group of car companies says together, this is our standards, we want to go to this level. This is how they improve the efficiency of, you know, internal combustion engine over the years. This is part of government regulation. But what we see is that sometimes the car industry, because the customers want it together, they want to do something. And I think that’s really important because often if we only look at the cost, which is initial cost of ownership and so on, making it circular may not be this economic decision, but if we include the whole cost for everybody, then there is an incentive to make it circular. So I think car companies have the possibility to do that if they all consider is all of them say we need to do something about batteries together, we cannot just throw it in the in kind of in the field. There should be a path, then the cost of it will be the same for everybody and they try to improve it.

Do you think they already do this?

I think more and more. So I think they realize customers and people, you know, people who buy cars do that. I think one thing maybe is missing is really quantitative method of how good you are, because sometimes it can become easily a PR or we are doing this. But the question is, is this 90% of your business or 10% of your business is circular? And I think if having some standard bodies or some group of industry, even themselves, be the standard and saying the same way we did standard for buildings, you know, before people used to say this building is better than the other, and they came up with specific measures of energy and so on. Now you can go in different building standards and say this building exactly how it is. I think we need similar standard for car industry, automotive if for this to be successful.