Master's student from TU Delft wins the Netherlands’ James Dyson Award 2022

News - 07 September 2022 - Communication

Integrated Product Design (IPD) master’s exchange student Konstantin Wolf took home the Netherlands’ James Dyson Award 2022 with his invention BREATHE. Konstantin, who was on exchange from Muthesius University Kiel in Germany, spent six months at the TU Delft | Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). During which, he was able to bring his award-winning project to the prototype phase.

Indoor air quality is an invisible and often underestimated health risk that can have serious consequences. On average, we spend 90% of our lives indoors, and (in extreme cases) indoor air pollution can be 25 times more harmful than the air outside. Thus, proper ventilation is necessary, especially in tiny homes. A lot of moisture is released in such a small space, which can cause all kinds of problems if the area is not properly ventilated. Luckily, IDE MSc student Konstantin Wolf has come up with a solution for this with his invention BREATHE.

The assignment: James Dyson Award

The assignment was simple: design something that solves a problem. Indoor air quality is often an underestimated problem with potentially serious consequences. In extreme cases, air pollution can be even 25 times more harmful than outdoors. This is mainly caused by organic matter, such as mould, which can develop quickly in small spaces due to humidity. Especially in a tiny house, where space is very limited, released moisture spreads more quickly. Additionally, humidity has a greater impact on tiny houses than on more spacious ones. BREATHE was developed as a passive and sustainable ventilation solution to improve indoor air quality in small living spaces and to meet the needs of the growing tiny house community.

How it works

BREATHE is an in-window installation that takes up very little space. Space saving inventions are important to the tiny home community, but so is the ability to live off-gird. For this design, it was therefore essential to find a method that works only with natural forces. Apart from the control system, BREATHE does not require electricity to generate its internal airflow thanks to the use of the chimney effect created by natural temperature differences. The structure provides an indoor and outdoor entrance and exit that are placed at the base and head of the product.

Slats, mounted between them, can be tilted to different degrees and are enclosed laterally in a thin glass chamber heated by solar rays. Warm air rises and creates an airflow that purposefully controls air exchange between the outside and inside. When the slats are under tension, the tensile effect increases, providing better ventilation in summer. In winter, the slats can be loosened again, giving them the freedom to move in the wind. This slows the airflow considerably, allowing the incoming air to be pre-heated by the stored solar energy. To learn more about his project, you can visit Konstantin’s website.

While working on BREATHE at IDE, Konstantin received coaching from Erik van Kuijk and expert support from IDE researchers Gert Pasman, James Broadhead and Gijs Huisman. While this was Konstantin’s project, he relied on group research to help make it possible. This included research support by Laura F. Drost, Qixiu Zhang, Wouter B. Kruithof, and Vincent S. P. van den Burg.