Scientific initiatives in the fight against Corona/COVID-19 by RWTH Aachen University

The coronavirus has put us all in a challenging situation but also revealed a lot of collaboration and solidarity. Amongst others, RWTH Aachen University has used its resources and expertise to help in the fight against COVID-19. This has led to many scientific projects that can have an influence worldwide, some of which we would like to present.

COVID-19 Evidence Navigator

First of all, the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management, TIM for short, contributes its skills in text analytics to pre-structure the rapidly growing scientific evidence on COVID-19 by machine and thus make it more accessible and easier to use for scientists, journalists, and policy makers in business and politics. TIM has developed a free online tool called COVID-19 Evidence Navigator, which is updated at least once a day. This project was led by Prof. Oliver Salge, the academic director of our MME TIME program.

3D printer for emergency items

The Fab Lab of RWTH Aachen University provides its 3D printers, laser cutters and other digital production machines for the rapid production of urgently needed parts in the medical field. In the fight against the corona pandemic, for example, visors for doctors, emergency ventilators for hospitals, but also forearm door handles for office doors can be produced. “We cannot supply certified medical products. But we do help to provide for emergencies in which the regular stocks in hospitals are no longer sufficient,” explains Professor Jan Borchers, holder of the Chair of Computer Science 10, where the Fab Lab is also located. The scientists are thus part of a worldwide community that organizes itself via social media, collects 3D designs for emergency equipment, evaluates their necessity and medical suitability, and produces them locally by volunteers.

3D respiratory pump

In an interdisciplinary team, RWTH scientists have developed a very simple respiratory pump for infected patients. This pump is to be used exclusively when there are major bottlenecks in hospitals or emergency care facilities. The pump actuates conventional ventilation bags, so-called ambu-bags, which are normally used for ventilation “by hand”. A ventilator pump can be built within one day. This allows volunteers with access to a 3D printer to quickly produce a larger number. Learn more about the pump and have a look at the corona news blog of RWTH Aachen University here.

“NeedMask” platform

Furthermore, the Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University has reacted to the lack of protective masks and created the “NeedMask” platform: A non-profit project for the procurement of protective masks in Europe with the aim of connecting those who produce masks with those who need masks. The aim is to establish a link between the need and the supply of protective clothing, especially face masks.

Scientific article on treatment of COVID-19

Scientists at RWTH Aachen University have published an article on treatment of COVID-19 infected patients. In it, they analyze the course of disease in patients who were admitted to the University Hospital RWTH Aachen, describing the first collective of patients in Germany.

Corona.KEX.net

The INC Invention Center, located on the RWTH Aachen Campus, is especially in this difficult time in a position to organize the procurement of important medical supplies, such as masks and gowns from the Asian region at short notice through its network of qualified and innovative institutes. For this reason, the INC Invention together with the KEX AG initiated the digital platform Corona.KEX.net. Hospitals and care facilities can now accredit themselves and register their requirements.

Vissmann now produces medical equipment

Although originally specialized in heating systems, Vissmann converted some of its production facilities to produce medical equipment like ventilators in cooperation with hospital doctors and the medical faculty of the RWTH Aachen University. Learn more here.

RefresherBoxx – The future of hygiene

Additionally, diverse start-ups joined in the fight against COVID-19. With the RefresherBoxx (RBx), an invention of RWTH students, viruses, bacteria, fungi and their spores can be eliminated from textiles. Originally developed as a refreshment and hygiene device for hotels, companies and private use, the students realized that the device might also help in the fight against COVID-19. “With the Boxx, multiple use of disposable items like respiratory masks, gowns, shoes as well as headgear and gloves can be achieved”, explains Gernot Sümmermann, co-founder of RefresherBoxx.

These are only some exemplary initiatives of RWTH Aachen University in the fight against COVID-19 and it is likely that more will follow.

For example, the new podcast of RWTH Aachen University connects experts from different fields at RWTH Aachen University. Our Prof. Piller is also part of the interviewed experts (episode 2).