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Company News, 2014-05-26, 11:00 AM

Young researchers from Dortmund reach national finals of Jugend forscht

Germs can be spread in any number of ways. A virus can be transmitted just by shaking someone’s hand. And anyone with flu who coughs into their hand and then grabs a handhold on a bus leaves behind bugs that could be passed on to the next passenger. Three apprentices from ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe have come up with an idea to prevent one of the most common ways of transmitting bacteria. With their project “Self-disinfecting door handle without chemicals”, the young researchers from Dortmund have made it through to the national finals of this year’s “Jugend forscht” young scientists’ competition in Künzelsau from May 29 to June 1.

The three – Lukas Latussek (18), Tim Leubecher (20) and Kai Musielak (18) – have already come through regional and state heats to qualify for the national final of the competition, now in its 49th year, where more than 200 other young researchers will present 114 projects in seven categories.
The “Technology” category has attracted the most entries, and this is where the second-year apprentice industrial mechanics and electronics technicians will battle it out with 19 other projects.

Their idea is simple, but difficult to implement. “During a visit to a public toilet we noticed that the only thing you still need to touch is the door handle,” says Tim Leubecher. “So we came up with an idea to avoid germs there too.” The three of them developed a method of keeping door handles sterile without the need for disinfectant sprays or chemicals. It uses so-called UV-C radiation to kill bacteria. Their idea was to attach a lamp to the door in such a way that it shines directly on the handle. The shaft of the door handle contains a motor and a bevel gear unit, allowing the handle to turn so that the UV-C light reaches all sides of it.

“Our apprentices are showing increased interest in entering projects in the Jugend forscht competition. So for one of our teams to get through to the national finals shows what is possible and provides a great motivational boost,” says Thomas Schlenz, Chief Human Resources Officer at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. “And we think this project has a good chance of being right up there at the end.” He continues: “Our track record in Germany’s best known youth science competition also demonstrates the high standard of training we provide in our technical centers.” ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe’s Dortmund technical center is currently training around 110 young people in seven different occupations, along with more than 40 apprentices from other companies.

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