Innovator in the Spotlight

Ayda Golahmadi EngD trainee Smart Cities and Buildings

Improving indoor air quality in schools in the Netherlands

My research is focused on improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools in the Netherlands as part of the ECOS-IAQ project.

New project videos: POWERLIFT

The OpenCall project Powerlift focuses on enhancing battery packs for unmanned aerial vehicles used in transportation, inspection, emergency services, and security. Through this project, the partners LeydenJar, Tulip Tech, and Wingtra aim to increase the deployment of drones in emergency situations, including organ transplantation, blood transport, professional assistance over long distances, and security purposes.

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Battery technology for the future

At LeydenJar, we are working on battery technology for the future. At the moment our battery for a drone can store 70% more energy. Drones can now flying longer distances, lifting off with ease, and exploring more locations. Through our collaboration at Eindhoven Engine with Tulip Tech and Wingtra, we are creating a modular design that allows customizable battery capacity and power—whether it’s a compact pack or a robust one, tailored precisely to each drone’s requirements.

Battery systems with the highest energy density

In project PowerLift we, Leydenjar, Tulip Tech and Wingtra, develop battery systems for industrial drones. As a partner within this project Tulip Tech builds battery systems with the highest specific energy density in the world. That means that the batteries have two to three times more energy per kilogram.

 

“I never saw myself working at Kropman,” Shalika Walker confesses. “And honestly, I might not have hired Shalika,” Joep van der Velden admits, seated beside her. “But how the OpenCall of Eindhoven Engine changed things. We’ve now created a new position within Kropman specifically to bring Shalika on board,” says Joep with a big smile.

We are at one of the offices of Kropman. This company designs, builds, maintains, and manages building installations, including climate control. “Kropman, rooted in construction, is traditionally less dynamic compared to sectors like semiconductors or the medical industry. So, working here was not on my radar,” Shalika shares.

Kropman’s Workspace: More Than Meets the Eye

“Welcome to our living lab,” Joep announces as he leads me into a spacious, open-plan office. At first glance, it looks ordinary, with dark gray carpets, white adjustable desks, and black office chairs. Joep notices my lukewarm reaction and gives a knowing sigh, directing my attention upward. “The real innovation is actually hidden above us in the ceiling.” I follow his gaze to a beige suspended ceiling, and he points out a translucent cap. “Those are sensors. They allow us to monitor and adapt the office environment, responding to the current scenario or the presence of workers.”

At Kropman, the pride lies in being system integrators. We source pumps from one company, sensors from another, and piping and operating systems from yet another. Our goal is to seamlessly blend these components, providing our customers with a unified operating system that manages lighting, climate control, and solar panels, among other things. This integration is meticulously crafted to enhance the experience for our clients’ employees, focusing on maximal efficiency and environmental sustainability, using as little energy as possible.

Embracing Open Collaboration for Innovation

Creating an integrated system might seem straightforward, but it’s a challenging endeavor. We’re in a field dominated by heavyweights like Siemens, Honeywell, and Signify, each offering products with proprietary systems and unique data outputs, typically closed to external systems. To navigate this, we developed our software to manage and optimize the diverse systems a client might have. However, the need for a testing ground became apparent. Clients often hesitate to open their buildings for experimental setups; hence, we transformed our Breda office into a living lab.

True partnership proved elusive until we found a more receptive community in the Brainport region.

Joep van der Velden
Director of Building Automation | Kropman

We strongly believe in an open environment for research and development. Our efforts to collaborate with universities and companies across and beyond Europe, however have been met with limited success. True partnership proved elusive until we found a more receptive community in the Brainport region. This shares a work and research philosophy similar to our own company’s, plus communication is direct and efficient, enabling us to quickly and easily connect with each other. This welcoming atmosphere was pivotal when Wim Zeiler, a former colleague now with  Eindhoven University of Technology and still an advisor at Kropman, introduced us to the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall. Recognizing its potential to foster meaningful partnerships, we eagerly seized this opportunity.

Eindhoven Engine’s OpenCall: A Catalyst for Collaboration

“Working with Eindhoven Engine offers a unique experience,” Shalika explains. “We share a location with a variety of companies and students, all engaged in their own projects. This diversity is beneficial. It’s not just about casual connections, like chatting at the coffee machine; we also attend sessions to share and discuss project progress.

For instance, while working on a data prediction project, I overheard a researcher at Eindhoven Engine’s Festival of Disruption event discussing data usage in cancer research. It didn’t click immediately, but later, the idea struck me at home: we could collaborate and enhance our respective research.

These interactions open up new perspectives and inspire innovative thinking. “This collaborative atmosphere was the reason Kropman signed up for three projects in a row. One project focused on detecting and diagnosing faults in building climate systems. The second project involved personalized thermal comfort systems, allowing employees to adjust their workspace climate via a smartphone app. The third was an assessment of CO2 sensors in the market, evaluating their accuracy for reliable CO2 readings in schools.

Although these projects are completed within Eindhoven Engine, we continue to build on the research and improve the products developed.” “And that’s why we brought Shalika on board,” says Joep.

Human-data interaction to enhance office well-being

Hi, my name is Hans Brombacher and I am a fourth year Industrial Design Ph.D. candidate. My work focuses on the topic of human-data interaction to enhance office well-being and is part of the POWEr FITTing project of Eindhoven Engine.

 

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Three case studies

In the landscape of workplace technology, sensing systems play a crucial role in gathering data for understanding building performance and employee activities. However, a common challenge arises: individuals often feel disconnected from these systems, being treated merely as passive recipients of data. Three case studies propose practical solutions to address this issue.

Case 1. SensorBadge

Case 1 introduces SensorBadge, an ego-centric sensor platform allowing employees to actively participate in data collection and analysis. This approach emphasizes the importance of seamlessly integrating sensor technology into daily routines while ensuring individuals have control over their data. The study underscores the need for clear and understandable data representations to facilitate informed decision-making.

Case 3. Click-IO

Case 3 presents Click-IO, a tangible tool designed for real-time feedback on workplace well-being. By merging individual experiences with environmental data, Click-IO offers a nuanced understanding of office dynamics. Its privacy-sensitive design ensures that employees feel comfortable sharing feedback, while its mobility allows for in-the-moment data collection.

Case 2. SensorBricks

In case 2, SensorBricks emerges as a toolkit aimed at improving data literacy among users. Through interactive workshops, participants engage with sensor data in a collaborative setting, fostering discussions and shared insights. The toolkit’s user-friendly interface lowers the barrier for individuals to interact with data, promoting a deeper understanding of their surroundings.

Human-centered design

These case studies demonstrate the importance of human-centered design in workplace sensing technologies. By prioritizing user engagement, control, and understanding, these approaches pave the way for more meaningful insights and improved well-being in the modern workplace.

Integration of findings

Within our final study, which will start soon, we will integrate the findings of these studies into a unified artifact, prioritizing human-centric design principles. This aims to enhance data literacy, facilitate real-time feedback on well-being, and ensure employee control over data. Implementing such an ecosystem in diverse workplace settings could provide valuable insights into its effectiveness and ethical implications, ultimately fostering a more fulfilling and productive work environment.

Empowering Epilepsy Care: Decoding Transcranial Electric Stimulation

Hi all, my name is Steven Beumer (30 years old) and for the last four years I’ve been doing my PhD at the TU/e, specifically the Electromagnetics group of Electrical Engineering. I was born and raised in Geldrop, a small village next to Eindhoven, so studying at this university was almost a no-brainer.

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My research is focused on using transcranial electric stimulation for epilepsy patients that cannot be treated using medicine or surgery and is part of the PerStim project. This project was conceived from the wish to be able to reduce the treatment gap in epilepsy and thus lower the burden of this disease on the patients and society.  

Electrical stimulation is simple, but very complex

Together with the Ghent University Hospital, Kempenhaeghe and Philips we started to research the use of electrical stimulation for epilepsy treatments. Through extensive literature studies, we found that the working mechanism of this technology is still poorly understood. Thus, we set out to answer a fundamental question using clinical studies: “Are we stimulating the brain with currents that go straight through the skull, or is it taking a more complicated route like the facial nerves?”

This method holds great promise for the future because of its affordability, simplicity, and potential for home use, which could ultimately reduce the need for frequent hospital visits.

Steven Beumer
PhD candidate PerStim project

To support these studies, I was tasked with making patient models, optimizing the electrode positions as well as analyzing the data. Together with students from Fontys and the TU/e, we built a full workflow to do this in a very quick and efficient manner. Eindhoven Engine enabled us to cooperate with the students from the Fontys. Their working mentality and different way of approaching problems were fundamental to significant parts of this work. Our clinical studies are still running, but preliminary results have shown that the answer to the abovementioned question might be that the stimulation works via both the direct and the indirect paths.

Looking into the future

Even though the use of transcranial electric stimulation is more complex than initially assumed, we have just started to unravel the actual working mechanism and I wholeheartedly believe that as we gain a deeper understanding, we can improve the methods and their efficacy. This method holds great promise for the future because of its affordability, simplicity, and potential for home use, which could ultimately reduce the need for frequent hospital visits.

My time at the university is running out, but I am still as fascinated by the world of brain stimulation as I was when starting this project and I’ll keep working in this field to improve the understanding of these techniques and unlock their potential for patients.

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New project videos: Carbyon 2.0

The atmospheric CO2 levels are excessively elevated, so urgent action is needed to lower them. Eindhoven Engine Project Carbyon is developping machines that are capable of capturing carbon from the surrounding air and filtering it out. The retrieved carbon dioxide can be either reused or securely stored for an indefinite period. By adopting this approach, Carbyon can effectively address the issue of climate change.

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Into a working machine

Marco Arts is the chief operating officer at Carbyon. Currently, Carbyon is collaborating with Eindhoven University of  Technology and DIFFER in the Eindhoven Engine project Carbyon 2.0 to verify their key technologies in their lab environments. Currently, they are developing a fully integrated working machine that takes in ambient air and delivers pure CO2.

Direct air capture by different solvents

Jasper Simons, CTO at Carbyon, showcases the first test version of their direct air capture equipment. And Shilpa Sonar is working as a postdoc researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology. Shilpa’s research is mainly focused on the direct air capture by the different solvents. Her research will be carried out in the Carbyon’s own home-produced reactor.

 

New project videos: Carbyon 2.0

The atmospheric CO2 levels are excessively elevated, so urgent action is needed to lower them. Eindhoven Engine Project Carbyon is developping machines that are capable of capturing carbon from the surrounding air and filtering it out. The retrieved carbon dioxide can be either reused or securely stored for an indefinite period. By adopting this approach, Carbyon can effectively address the issue of climate change.

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Hans Krikhaar, who is leading this project and is a lecturer in Smart Manufacturing at Fontys Engineering, understood that SMEs have a great need for innovation, but lack the capacity and knowledge to do these innovations themselves. To be ahead of the competition, it is extremely important for SMEs to keep innovating their production processes. The industries need to adopt Smart Manufacturing. The fresh perspective and knowledge of Fontys students are the outcome here. In the ecosystem knowledge exchange at Eindhoven Engine makes cross-pollinations possible between Fontys students, SMEs, other companies and institutes. With the help of Eindhoven Engine, it results in a validated approach to strengthen the innovation power of SMEs in the Brainport region.

Hans Krikhaar

Projects in three focus areas

The goal of SmartMan project was to annually realize 40 subprojects carried out by 2nd, 3rd and 4th year Fontys students at SMEs. During the 3-year period at Eindhoven Engine, indeed a total of 120 projects at various companies were successfully completed. A very nice result considering this project withstood the corona epidemic. In the SmartMan project with Eindhoven Engine, Fontys, TNO and Brainport Industries as partners, students do their internship and graduation assignments in various facets of Smart Manufacturing.

These can be divided into three focus areas:

1. Topological design, which includes additive manufacturing and lightweight structures.

2. Intelligent systems (AI, low-code modeling and digital twinning).

3. Factory automation and robotics.

Knowledge exchange at Eindhoven Engine makes cross-pollinations possible between Fontys students, SMEs, other companies and institutes.

Hans Krikhaar
Project leader SmartMan project & lecturer in Smart Manufacturing at Fontys Engineering

At VDL, successive students have worked on modular injection molds (topological design). In the area of intelligent systems, several students have used artificial intelligence for VBTI to further develop vision analysis, and at Siemens, students have collaborated on developing digital twins. Students have also contributed to factory automation solutions at various companies. At Eindhoven Engine project Carbyon DAC, a student even collaborated on the process plant for making CO2-absorbent material used to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

Stronger link

Fontys Engineering is working out plans to follow up on SmartMan. The goal is to link research even more closely to student projects in companies, especially in SMEs. Students will receive assignments within research domains at companies and teacher-researchers will provide the necessary knowledge transfer. This allows future students to complete their assignments more efficiently with the guidance and knowledge of the lecturer-researcher.

Media: New innovation projects for Fontys in Eindhoven Engine

Fontys participates with two new innovation projects in Eindhoven Engine, the innovation accelerator of the Brainport region. A total of seven new innovation projects will start.

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These projects in particular in the fields of energy, health and smart mobility will conduct research in the coming years with a total budget of nearly 17 million euros, to which Eindhoven Engine contributes a total of over 2.4 million euros. The investment for the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall 2022 comes from the Brainport Regio Deal.

The seven projects can bring their innovations to the market faster, as they continue their research within Eindhoven Engine, collaborate at Eindhoven Engine’s colocation on the TU/e campus and build the internal community together. Until 2025, the new projects have time to use the boost from Eindhoven Engine to further develop their innovations.

Eindhoven Engine gives green light to new innovation projects collectively worth €16.8 million

With an investment of over €2.2 million, various challenging, innovative projects with potential impacts on society and the economy are being given space within Eindhoven Engine. Together, these projects represent an investment of €16.8 million. The money for the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall comes from the Region Deal Brainport.

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Following the submission deadline of 4 June, a team of experts has examined the 11 projects submitted. Each of the projects was first assessed against formal criteria which had been published in advance and which set a high quality standard. Paul Merkus, coordinator of the OpenCall: “The text of the OpenCall 2020 was clear, which allowed the evaluation process to run smoothly and fairly. The team of experienced, independent experts was able to determine the ranking of the nine eligible proposals on the basis of these criteria. I’m proud of that.” Yesterday, the Advisory Board of Eindhoven Engine – with representatives from the knowledge institutions TU/e, TNO and Fontys and the business community – also gave a positive recommendation on the proposed selection of projects.

“In this time of the corona pandemic in particular, we see a great need for innovation. Companies and knowledge institutions have worked together intensively to come up with strong project proposals,” add directors Katja Pahnke and Maarten Steinbuch. “We therefore see a nice mix of diversity in the consortia. Eindhoven Engine is picking up more and more steam.” The projects are highly diverse in their focus: climate, vitality, health and smart manufacturing.
“Co-creation and co-location are the basic ingredients for unlocking collective intelligence in order to give a boost to innovation: this is Eindhoven Engine’s way of working. We look forward to the participating consortia soon becoming part of our ecosystem.”

Eindhoven Engine

Eindhoven Engine unlocks the collective intelligence in the Brainport region. Thanks to a unique formula, innovators from companies can join forces with students and experienced employees from knowledge institutions in order to work together to accelerate innovation and realize disruptive co-creation projects in which co-location is a prerequisite. The founding fathers of Eindhoven Engine are the knowledge institutions Fontys, TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology and the companies Philips Healthcare, Signify, ASML, VDL, NTS and NXP. Eindhoven Engine’s funds come from the Brainport Region Deal.

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Background information on projects

For each of the projects, co-location at Eindhoven Engine is an attractive form of added value. Through this, Eindhoven Engine increases the chances of inspiring encounters. The Eindhoven Engine academy complements this with coaching and pioneering insights.

Carbyon

Humanity is facing an unprecedented challenge: global warming, driven by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil sources such as oil and gas. However, these emissions, if captured, can be a renewable carbon source with applications such as crop growth and sustainable fuel synthesis. Carbyon will develop Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into a green substitute to fossil fuels. As the global demand for renewable carbon will increase once the price level reaches €50 per ton of CO2, Carbyon is challenging multidisciplinary teams within Eindhoven Engine to collaboratively improve the main cost drivers of DAC technology.

Partners: Carbyon, DIFFER, TU/e

SmartMan

Smart Manufacturing (SmM) aims to improve factory efficiency by optimizing production processes, but SMEs often lack the capacity to create innovation in this domain. Bringing together Eindhoven Engine, Fontys, TNO and Brainport Industries Campus, the SmartMan project comprises research into various facets of SmM, including robot-assisted manufacturing, data sharing, industrial AI, virtual reality and autonomous transport. Student projects will be executed at SMEs with the goal of developing knowledge, technology and methods for combining quality, automation and flexibility in manufacturing. Success will be measured in terms of the economic value of improvements per project and company.

Partners: Fontys, TNO, Smart Industry Fieldlab Flexible Manufacturing partners, VDL, VBTI and several SMEs

ECoS-IAQ

Efficient Comfortable School Indoor Air Quality

Installations in buildings are responsible for around 35% of all energy consumption, approximately 20% of which is due to inefficient operations. Inferior environmental conditions within classrooms can have both short- and long-term health effects, mainly due to the presence of particulate matter. With greater insights into sensors, data interpretation, trend signaling, continuous monitoring, fault detection/diagnosis and predictive maintenance, problems can be identified in the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems of schools. The ECoS-IAQ project focuses on the creation of product development concepts for air handling manufacturers, air filter manufacturers, control companies and installers.

Partners: Building G100, Camfil, ISSO, Kropman, Lucas Onderwijs, NedAir, TU/e

iHeat@Home

The iHeat@Home project contributes to a breakthrough innovation in thermal energy storage: a heat battery which is better, cheaper, smaller and greener than any competitor. This will accelerate the energy transition, promote the development of renewable energy sources, reduce grid investments and create new business. This is all happening here in the Brainport region. iHeat@Home focuses on solutions for real-time data on the heat battery’s state-of-charge and its optimal data management, with three coherent solutions: 1. The basis for a sensor which is robust and cheap; 2. Communication protocols and data management; 3. Integration in a validated, user-ready heat battery. The aim is to bring this technology to the market by 2023.

Partners: Caldic, Fontys, TNO, TU/e, Warmtebatterij BV

POWErFITTing

FITTing Persons’ vitality and optimizing their Work Environment

In an increasingly competitive global economy, physical inactivity and burnout rates are increasing. Sustainable employability based on good physical and mental health is therefore crucial, preventing absenteeism and also reducing healthcare costs. POWer FITTing optimizes the relationship between vitality and the (home) office environment through the combination of data acquisition, integration and application for the validation and acceleration of user-oriented solutions. By taking into account individual, societal and contextual factors, this enables employees to remain both healthy and productive. This benefits companies, individuals and wider society.

Partners: Fontys, HC Oranje-Rood, IMEC, TNO, TU/e

Wombath: towards an artificial womb

Following their birth, each child faces a physiological transition from mother-placental life support to (self-sufficient) life outside the womb. For some premature babies, this transition occurs too quickly. This places a heavy demand on the child’s immature vital organs, which is why extremely premature babies often experience serious, lifelong health problems with possible social consequences. As a trial in recent years, premature lambs have successfully been kept alive in a fluid-based environment, allowing them to develop in the same way as in the womb. The results are also promising for human application. The WOMBATH consortium will develop a medical device – an artificial womb – that supports the safe development of extremely premature babies outside of the womb. Ultimately, these infants will have better health prospects than premature infants with conventional care.

Partners: LifeTec Group, Máxima Medical Center, MEDSIM, NEMO Healthcare, POLIMI, RWTH Aachen, TU/e