As part of my Master’s degree programme in ‘Chemical Engineering and Process Engineering’ at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), I am required to take part in a work placement and, since I already knew that I wanted to specialise in the area of particle and filter technology, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to apply to MANN+HUMMEL.

A MASTER’S THESIS WITH PRACTICAL RELEVANCE

I began my placement in the liquid filter test facility in April 2018, where I then spent the following six months working with mobile particle filters. I enjoyed the placement very much; so much so that I soon decided that I would also like to write my master’s thesis at the company. However, I was interested in getting to know another area when doing so, so I decided to focus on the subject of air filters/aerosol technology and applied to the ‘Fine Dust Eater’ team for my master’s thesis.

fine dust eater Stuttgart Neckartor

Even during my placement, everyone was already talking about the innovative ‘Fine Dust Eater’ project, focussing on the topic of air pollution, which has been the subject of much attention recently. As a result, I had already been carefully following the progress of the project, which made it all the more pleasing when I was accepted. From the academic side, I had Prof. Achim Dittler, who leads the ‘Gas particle systems’ working group at the Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering and Mechanics at KIT, as my supervisor to provide scientific support for my thesis.

measuring station at Neckartor

CONTRIBUTION TO A PRODUCT INNOVATION

Since November 2018, I have been writing my master’s thesis on the efficacy of the stationary filter columns at Stuttgart’s Neckartor and in Ludwigsburg’s Bleyle quarter in filtering fine dust from the ambient air. The examination of the columns’ efficacy primarily consisted of measuring the concentration of fine dust directly at the site using mobile measurement technology. In comparison to measurements taken in consistent laboratory conditions, measuring fine dust in outdoor areas poses some entirely new challenges. For instance, there are numerous environmental influences at the site, most of which are impossible to predict and affect the measurements taken; for example, smokers walking past or sudden changes in the weather conditions. The majority of the on-site measurements were taken on ‘Feinstaubalarm’ (fine dust alarm) days when the particulate concentration was extremely high.

various instruments

These are days on which Stuttgart’s citizens are asked to limit their car use in order to reduce air pollution. Since not every day has extremely high concentrations of fine dust, we needed to make use of these days by taking measurements all day, whereby it was, of course, irrelevant whether the temperature was just over 0°C or a mild 10°C. On top of this, a certain sense of responsibility and special care are, of course, also required for a master’s thesis on a topic like this which is currently the subject of so much public debate and controversy. This is because there is interest in the measurement results both from within the company and from the public at large. Ultimately, however, the work has paid off, with initial results showing that the filter columns are having a positive effect.

Measuring fine dust in Stuttgart

A TEAM WITH A STARTUP FEEL

It wasn’t just the tasks that I was able to take on that were exciting, however, it was also a special experience for me to work in a project team with members from a range of disciplines. This gave me

an interesting insight into areas beyond my specialism, which provided a contrast to my previous experiences in specialist teams with a conventional structure. Furthermore, when developing innovative product ideas, speed and close communication are usually required, which calls for alternative ways of working. This meant I was able to learn new agile working methods such as SCRUM, a procedure model for project management, which facilitates fast and efficient product development.

Filter cube at Neckartor

In any case, I am very happy to have been able to contribute to the development of an innovative product with my master’s thesis, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to gain experience in an agile and constantly expanding environment.