THESES

Master’s theses

Effective communication plays a crucial role in raising awareness about sustainability. Serious Games was identified as a relevant tool for educating adults on the social aspects of sustainable development. In this regard, Sociabill was developed. Sociabill is grounded in the principles of Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) and aims to provide adults with a comprehensive understanding of this methodology. In Sociabill, players assume the role of entrepreneurs seeking to launch their inaugural T-shirt collection. The objective is for players to construct their businesses by acquiring social impact subcategory cards spanning the product’s lifecycle. Ultimately, the game culminates in a mock audit, determining whether players have established socially responsible, aspirational, or lagging companies.

Testing the game within different groups revealed the need for updates of the game. The thesis should critically look at the game and reveal improvement options (especially related to potential impacts and points granted according to production location).

The thesis can be written in German or English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

The automotive industry’s substantial contribution to global emissions and resource consumption underscores the urgent need for robust sustainability regulations. Alongside environmental concerns, social and ethical issues such as labor practices and supply chain transparency are critical ESG concerns, gaining increased attention. Recognizing the urgency, many automotive companies are increasingly focusing on ESG factors to comply with regulatory requirements, attract environmentally-conscious customers, and secure investment from ESG-focused investors. At the same time, global governments and regulatory bodies are increasingly implementing policies to transition the automotive sector towards a low-carbon and sustainable future.

Despite the increasing regulatory pressure, challenges persist in the assessment and comparability of required disclosures within the automotive sector. Thus, this research aims to:

  • Evaluate the current landscape of sustainability regulations within the automotive industry.
  • Assess the availability/ requirement of standardized and harmonized assessment methods, exemplified by the GHG protocol ISO 14064, for the Scope 1-3 emission disclosures.
  • Investigate the potential of LCSA to fulfill the required disclosures and enhance transparency as well as comparability in meeting regulatory indicators, while identifying opportunities and challenges.

Contact: Suzana Ostojic (suzana.ostojic@inab.rwth-aachen.de)

Lightweight components have become well-established measures in the automotive sector, leading to less material consumption and reducing manufacturing and operating environmental impacts. In the current research, a particular focus has been laid on glass-fiber-reinforced polymer composites. Those innovative lightweight materials have the potential to reduce environmental impacts throughout the life cycle compared to conventional monolithic aluminum or magnesium lightweight components.

Yet, recycling lightweight composites at their end-of-life can pose new modeling challenges and significantly influence the results of life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. In contrast to established recycling processes (e.g., steel recycling), new materials’ recycling technologies lack maturity (e.g., recycling of fiber-reinforced polymers), leading to downcycling of the materials. In addition, the energy required to recycle lightweight structures can be higher than for conventional materials (e.g., for the sorting and separation of composites). Lastly, also the need for primary data plays a significant role.

Accordingly, this thesis aims to work out the currently possible methods for the recycling of fiber-reinforced polymer composites and the related energy consumption to enable a life cycle assessment for the end of its life cycle. For this purpose, a life cycle assessment model of fiber-reinforced polymer composites should be built for the end of their life cycle. The environmental performance of the modeled scenarios should be evaluated with Excel. The overall results will serve as early guidance for the environmentally sustainable development of innovative lightweight structures.

The thesis is to be written in English.

Contact: Suzana Ostojic – suzana.ostojic@inab.rwth-aachen.de 

Start date: as soon as possible

Requirements:

  • Very good German and English language skills (written and spoken)
  • Reliability and commitment
  • Ability to work independently
  • Proactiveness
  • Knowledge of statistics and/or Multi-Decision Criteria Making (MCDM) methods is an advantage

Context:

The movement of both people and goods stands as a fundamental pillar of our society. Currently, mobility, particularly concerning road traffic, faces significant challenges related to durability, safety, efficiency, sustainability, costs, and automation. Such pressing challenges demand immediate and comprehensive solutions. A possible solution can be found in the Digital Twin Road, which can be used for the pavement management in the future road system and has the potential to lead to a sustainable road infrastructure.

However, to have a system that is holistically sustainable, it should comprehend, in addition to environmental and economic considerations, the social dimension and encompass broad social acceptance by the end user. Similar to most disruptive technologies, it is possible that aspects related to the Digital Twin Road could affect the social acceptance of certain stakeholders, also impacting in the way they engage with it. For instance, the presence of sensors collecting data on the road may produce apprehension from road users due to data protection concerns. Therefore, the social acceptance of sensors used for the data collection within the context of the Digital Twin Road (DT) must be investigated.

Goals and tasks:

The main goal of this master thesis is to assess the social acceptance of sensors / DT for the stakeholder “road user”. The main outcome of the thesis is a list of social concerns that affect the social acceptance of the DT. Furthermore, strategies should be proposed to address the identified constraints and improve social acceptance.

First, a literature study should be performed to identify the implications of the use of sensors in the context of the DT. Based on these findings, semi-structured interviews should be conducted on a representative group in Germany to identify which social constraints are considered the most influential. Furthermore, potential strategies for improving social acceptance should be presented under consideration of those most influential social concerns. These aspects should be analyzed by applying a Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) method to identify the best possible strategies based on the outcomes of the survey. The outcomes of the thesis should support the further investigation of social acceptance of sensors / DT on a larger scale.

Organizational matters:

The thesis will be supervised by Dr. Arij Chabrawi and Pamela Del Rosario (M.Sc.)

The thesis should be written in English

If you’re interested, please write an e-mail to Ms. Del Rosario and Dr. Chabrawi and attach a brief CV and grade summary

Contacts:

Pamela Del Rosario: pamela.delrosario@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Dr. Arij Chabrawi: arij.chabrawi@inab.rwth-aachen.de

The UN formulates sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN, 1987: Our Common Future). This concept is summarized in the balance of the “ecological”, “economic” and “social” pillars of sustainability.

The social pillar of sustainability aims to improve the social conditions in relation to a product or service and the well-being of the people associated with it (stakeholders). The focus of this thesis is on the development of a prototype system (based on questions and points) that supports measuring social indicators of roads’ construction projects within a sustainability tool.

The expected results are:

  • The development of questions based on scientific literature and official documents (e.g. GRI and ISO 26000) that support measuring social indicators related to roads’ construction.
  • Integration of system of points to evaluate possible answers to the questions.

The thesis must be written in English.

Start date: as soon as possible

Requirements:

  • Very good English (written and spoken)
  • Commitment and proactiveness
  • Ability to work independently

Contact: Bruna Pereira de Souza, M.Sc., M.Sc.

The UN formulates sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN, 1987: Our Common Future). This concept is summarized in the balance of the “ecological”, “economic” and “social” pillars of sustainability.

The need for sustainability poses a number of new challenges for traditional infrastructure sectors, such as in roads’ construction. The use of resource-saving materials, low-CO2 construction methods, new materials and types of energy should be considered in new projects from now on. Sustainable thinking and action are increasingly becoming the focus of public attention and will be an essential part of all construction processes in the future.

The goal of this thesis is to assess the environmental impacts of roads’ construction with a life cycle approach for different scenarios regarding materials and energy. The scenarios should represent future choices to construct more sustainable roads in Germany.

The expected result for this thesis is a life cycle assessment model of future roads in Germany by developing various scenarios with different materials and energy sources. The environmental performance of the modeled scenarios should be evaluated with Excel. The overall results will serve as early perspective of the environmental impacts of the new materials and energy used in the future for roads’ construction.

Specific tasks are:

  • Data collection based on the literature for materials and energy
  • Development of scenarios that represent future roads in Germany
  • Simulations of the environmental impacts of a road life cycle using LCA softwares
  • Assessment of the results using Excel

The thesis should be written in English.

Start date: as soon as possible

Requirements:

  • Very good English (written and spoken)
  • Commitment and proactiveness
  • Ability to work independently
  • Knowledge on LCA methodology and softwares would be preferable

Contact: Bruna Pereira de Souza, M.Sc., M.Sc

Bachelor’s theses

Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) is the youngest among the three approaches related to Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment. It is evolving throughout time and new methodologies are being incorporated into the researchers’ practices. Data collection is still the greatest constraint, being the primary data collection one of the major challenges to SLCA. 

According to the Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products and Organizations (Benoît Norris et al., 2020), SLCA comprises six stakeholders of analysis: worker, actors of the value chain, local community, society, consumers and children. Among them, the worker stakeholder is the one most commonly assessed either by collecting primary or secondary data sources. 

Therefore, this project aims at running an extensive literature review on the data collections methods and tools, either related to generic or specific data, applied to assessing the six stakeholders, with an emphasis on workers. Furthermore, it aims to map the most assessed indicators, regardless of the economic sector of the studies, in order to propose a harmonised set of indicators for each stakeholder, comprised with a sound definition and suggesting data collection sources and reliable tools within the literature.

This thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Arij Chabrawi (arij.chabrawi@inab.rwth-aachen.de)

The UN formulates sustainability as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN, 1987: Our Common Future). This concept is summarized in the balance of the “ecological”, “economic” and “social” pillars of sustainability.
The social pillar of sustainability aims to improve the social conditions associated with a product or service and the well-being of the people associated with it (stakeholders). In reality, however, it is difficult to measure social indicators in companies due to a lack of quantitative data and a lack of access to stakeholders, such as employees and the value chain. Therefore, the focus of this thesis is on the identification and evaluation of international tools and instruments, such as GRI and ISO 26000, that measure social indicators in companies.
The expected outcome is a comprehensive literature review of the questions used in official documents and sustainability tools (e.g. DGNB) that measure or verify social indicators in companies.

This thesis can be written in either German or English.

Start date: as soon as possible

Requirements:

    • Very good knowledge of German and/or English (Research in English-language literature must be taken into account)
    • Commitment and initiative
    • Ability to work independently

Contact:

Dr.-Ing. Roland Meyer

Bruna Pereira de Souza, M.Sc., M.Sc.