News | Education 07.03.2011

Ways to conserve resources!

Nine teams from three countries made it to the final round of the 2011 student competition

Will plastic soon have a sweet taste? Probably not. But it could, in the future, be produced from sugar instead of petroleum. That discovery was made by Tobias Pickert of Recklinghausen, whose project “Furan 2.5 dicarbolyxic acid based on sugars: future substitute for petroleum for the chemical industry?” impressed the jurors of the semi-finals at RWTH Aachen University. Along with the other winning teams from the Aachen competition –  Claudia Fischer, Victor Brosius, and Nina Neser of Ludwigshafen (topic: Camelina in the gas tank?) and Sabrina Schönberger, Andreas Bartl, and Michael Schobesberger of the Austrian town of Wels (Production of bio-ethanol using immobilized yeast cells and immobilized yeast enzymes) – he will present his work to jurors during the final round of the student competition in Munich in early April.

There, the three winning teams from Aachen will compete with the winners of the semi-finals held at the Technical University (TU) Berlin and TU Munich. In Berlin, the Goslar high school students Carina Tetzlaff and Katharina Vollheyde qualified for the final round with their work “Investigation of a fiber-reinforced material made from polylactic acid and stinging nettles,” as did Dennis Kreuzmann, Johannes Czerny, and Clemens Schütz of Wittenberg (Alternative fat-splitting using micro-organisms). The Berlin finalists will be joined by Nico Pareja Schmidt, Lisa Anna Matthiesen, and Marco Danilo Martin of the German School in Las Palmas, who will present their project “Cultivation of eco-bananas on the Canary Islands” at the Siemens Forum.

In Munich, Simon Kollross (Changes caused to the forests of Upper Bavaria by the use of wood as an energy source), Patricia Wienert (Japanese knotweed as an alternative energy plant instead of maize), and the two Leipzig high school students Marvin Franke and Christian Müller (Optimization of energy supplies using ant heuristics) secured their place in the final round. All participating teams received a check for €2,500 for their research work. In addition, the mentoring teachers each received €1,500 for their departments. Prizes totaling about €60,000 will be awarded in the final round.

A total of 400 high school students participated in this year’s competition, which was held under the motto “Using resources intelligently – working today to conserve for tomorrow.” Ultimately, 116 papers were submitted from six countries and evaluated by the partner universities.