‘Jugend forscht’ competition for young researchers in schools: girl from Baden-Württemberg wins special award

This year’s ‘Jugend forscht’ special award for renewables research goes to Alice Cornelia Höfler from Gottmadingen in the State of Baden-Württemberg, who developed a fine particulate air filter for small furnaces.

Der "Jugend forscht" Sonderpreis Erneuerbare Energien geht dieses Jahr an Alice Cornelia Höfler aus Gottmadingen in Baden-Württemberg.© Stiftung Jugend forscht e. V.

Alice Cornelia Höfler, an 18-year-old student of Hegau Gymnasium in Singen, has been awarded the ‘Jugend forscht’ special award for renewable energies. The prize, which is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and is worth €1,500, is awarded to school students who have conducted some outstanding research work in the field of renewables.

‘Clean energy’ research

Alice Höfler has long been fascinated by tiled fireplaces and small furnaces, and by how the amount of pollution from these nice and cosy heating systems can be reduced. Her entry to the ‘Jugend forscht’ competition is a ‘wet separator for fine particulate matter from small furnaces’, an installation that is attached to the chimney. The smoke emitted by the fireplace is fed through a water filter that is capable of taking out a large portion of the fine particulate matter. The 18-year-old student tested her device in an tiled fireplace she built herself, and tested the concentrations of fine particulate matter in the smoke both before and after it passed the filter, using sensors she had also designed and constructed herself. Her method proved successful, with the filter being capable of eliminating some 70 per cent of the fine particulate matter contained in the smoke.

Expertise, creativity and a research problem that is very up to date

In addition to winning the special award, Alice Höfler also came third in the technology category of the ‘Jugend forscht’ competition at federal level. Her project is testimony not only of the talented young woman’s expertise, creativity and craftsmanship, but also of her awareness of a very acute problem of our time. Many people, particularly those living in cities, are affected by fine particulate matter. These small particles formed as a result of combustion processes are so tiny that they can easily make their way into our lungs. The main sources of fine particulate matter in Germany are road transport and industrial installations. But small wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are also sources of the miniscule particles.

Fostering young talent

The winners of the 53rd competition of ‘Jugend forscht’ at federal level were presented their awards by Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek on 27 May. The objective of the competition, which is open to children and young people up to 21 years of age is to make young people passionate about maths, computer science, the natural sciences and technology, and to spot and foster talent.

Since 2007, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been financing a special award for research into renewables. This award is designed to encourage young people to think about ways in which we can use energy in a sustainable, environmentally-compatible and forward-looking way. The winners of the 2016 to 2018 ‘Jugend forscht’ competitions at federal level will be presenting their projects at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in late June. They will also visit an energy startup in Berlin and the German Bundestag, where they will discover the details of the energy supply concept used in the Reichstag building.

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