Presentation of the RWTH Innovation Award


Projects focusing on hearing aids, damper systems for constructions, and battery efficiency were recognized with the award.

  Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter Professor Malte Brettel (left), RWTH vice-rector for business and industry, presented the Innovation Award.

The RWTH Aachen Innovation Award was recently presented for the fifth time. Each year, the award recognizes three projects at the University that strongly contribute to the high standing of the Aachen region as an innovation hub. RWTH Innovation GmbH supported the award for the first time this year. It is a key organization linking the University and industry.

A project from the Institute of Communication Systems won first place. Stefan Liebich’s team with Johannes Fabry, Professor Peter Jax, and Professor Peter Vary, was honored for their project Enhanced Audio Reality (EAR): Digitally Opening the Ear for Headsets and Hearing Aids.

When wearing headsets or hearing aids, the perception of one's own voice becomes distorted and inner sounds become more intense. The reason for this is the so-called occlusion effect, which occurs when the ear canals are closed by a headset or hearing aid. Stefan Liebich’s team solves this problem by actively emitting compensation signals with an integrated loudspeaker. The binaural headset includes two additional microphones on each side – one inner and one outer – to capture signals for calculating compensation signals. This balanced processing of the two microphone signals results in a "digital ear opening" and therefore a much more natural perception of both one's own voice and the environmental sound.

The second place went to Dr Okyay Altay, chief engineer at the Chair of Structural Analysis and Dynamics, for the innovation Omnidirectional Liquid Damper. Modern constructions often only feature minimal damping systems and are therefore at risk of structural vibrations. Dampers however can reduce this, since they absorb the vibrational energy. The omnidirectional liquid damper is unlike other systems currently in place, since it can absorb vibrations in every possible horizontal direction and is therefore significantly more efficient.

Finally, a team from the Chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components was honored with third place for their BatteReMan project. The team, consisting of Francesco Maltoni, Sarah Fluchs, and Christoph Lienemann, is seeking to sustainably increase the resource efficiency in the production of lithium-ion batteries across all stages of the life cycle with the help of a suitable remanufacturing concept. When an electric-vehicle battery reaches 80 percent of its capacity, it is deemed to be of no further use for vehicles. Battery cells age in different manners however, so at this stage 70 to 90 percent of the cells are still fit for use. Maltoni and his colleagues are developing processes to reacquire the used battery cells in order to form new and fully functioning batteries.

Editorial by: Press and Communications