After training to be a businessman, Otto works as a traveling salesperson in Cologne from 1853, and starts to delve into the world of internal combustion engine technology.
This year, DEUTZ is presenting its prestigious Nicolaus August Otto Award for the third time. The engine manufacturer’s innovation prize is named for the inventor of the four-stroke engine and founder of the company that would later become DEUTZ AG.
In 2021, the award ceremony is taking place for the first time as part of the #neuland congress, a think tank for future-focused topics such as sustainable mobility.
For more than 150 years, DEUTZ AG has stood for unsurpassed drive technology, which is why it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of groundbreaking drive systems today. Founded by the pioneer and coinventor of the four-stroke principle, Nicolaus August Otto, the traditional Cologne-based company has succeeded in constantly reinventing itself and meeting the challenges posed by changing factors with innovative strength.
By awarding the Nicolaus August Otto Award, named after its founder, DEUTZ AG aims to herald a symbolic renaissance of innovation and pioneering spirit. This is why the Nicolaus August Otto Award is awarded for decisive shaping of the future, novel technology, groundbreaking futurology, and for an outstanding lifetime achievement. It is intended to honor visionaries of our time and, endowed with prize money of €30,000, to promote the prize winners’ new, big ideas. Hendrik Wüst, minister for transport for North Rhine-Westphalia, is patron of the award.
NICOLAUS AUGUST OTTO
Otto starts to test a four-stroke engine he had built himself, which did not, however, lead to the intended success he had wished for due to the explosive nature of the fuel.
Otto gives up his job as a traveling salesperson and founds N.A.Otto & Cie. (DEUTZ AG today) together with the engineer and sugar manufacturer Eugen Langen – the first factory in the world dedicated exclusively to the production of internal combustion engines.
An atmospheric gas engine developed by Otto and Langen is awarded the gold medal at the world’s fair in Paris for being the most economical engine for small businesses.
Otto completes the four-stroke engine with compressed charge, which can be used for all types of fuel and applications.
Otto receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Würzburg together with Bell, the inventor of the telephone.
Otto ends his work on the internal combustion engine with the development of the magneto-electric low-voltage ignition, the prerequisite for internal combustion engines that are independent of the gas network.
Otto dies on January 26, in Cologne at the age of 59. At Cologne’s Melaten cemetery, a grave of honor commemorates the inventor of the four-stroke principle today.
As part of the USA’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of its automobile history, Otto is inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit together with Wilhelm Maybach.
On March 5, 2002, Otto is inducted into the European Automotive Hall of Fame in Geneva.
The Nicolaus August Otto Award is awarded for the first time.
The award winner
This year, DEUTZ AG is honoring Professor Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla. The mechanical engineer and materials science specialist has been the Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since October 1, 2020. The DLR covers a comprehensive range of topics in basic and applied research, including hybrid rocket engines, quantum computing, and carbon-neutral aviation. Climate change mitigation is an integral part of its research in the areas of space exploration, aeronautics, energy, and transportation.
Professor Kaysser-Pyzalla completed her doctorate and qualified as a university lecturer at Ruhr University Bochum. Following research activities at the Hahn-Meitner Institute (HMI) and the Technical University of Berlin, she conducted research and taught as a university professor at the Vienna University of Technology from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, she joined the management team at Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH in Düsseldorf as a scientific member, director, and then managing director. In 2008, she was appointed scientific director of the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy in Berlin, which was created under her leadership by merging HMI and BESSY. Professor Kaysser-Pyzalla was President of the Technical University of Braunschweig from May 2017 until her appointment at the DLR.
Das DLR ist weit mehr als das Forschungszentrum der Bundesrepublik Deutschland für Luft- und Raumfahrt. Es verknüpft seine wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten und technischen Entwicklungen in diesen Bereichen mit seinem Know-how der Themen Energie und Verkehr sowie in den Querschnittsthemen Sicherheit und Digitalisierung. Über die eigene Forschung hinaus ist das DLR als Raumfahrtagentur im Auftrag der Bundesregierung für die Planung und Umsetzung der deutschen Raumfahrtaktivitäten zuständig sowie als Projektträger tätig.
Interview: “Innovative mobility solutions require new and efficient structures”
1. What can we here on Earth learn from the German Aerospace Center? For example, in relation to greener transportation?
What makes the German Aerospace Center so unique is that it brings together research in the fields of aeronautics, energy and transportation while working on the future of mobility. We apply our interdisciplinary expertise in the spirit of the European Green Deal to actively shape the transition toward greener solutions, for example in aviation. We are pursuing the vision of carbon-neutral flight, which includes the development of sustainable fuels and route planning that reduces the impact on the climate. We also look at aircraft as a complete system, from design and production to operation and retirement. Digitalization, simulation, data management, and artificial intelligence play an essential role in this, as will quantum technologies.
Aeronautics, transportation, and energy research also benefit from knowledge gained in space exploration, such as the handling of hydrogen. This can help when it comes to optimizing a variety of processes in the development of sustainable fuels, for example. These play an important role in shaping and delivering new mobility solutions in the air and on the ground. The implementation of carbon-neutral mobility is also reliant on the transfer of research findings to the development of new intermodal transportation concepts, which increasingly involves data from Earth observation and the fields of navigation and communication. In order to achieve the best possible results for all parties involved, the German Aerospace Center works closely with industry in the application of its research findings. The center also provides fresh ideas for the business start-up ecosystem.
2. Since you mention the Green Deal, what do you believe will be the key source of energy in the near future, and why?
Producing energy using regenerative methods and from carbon-neutral fuels will be key to ensuring that mobility is as green as possible. Providing sustainable energy in sufficient and constant quantity is a major task for science and industry, and for policymakers too, of course, as it is they who establish the framework within which we act.
No single energy source will be available in sufficient quantities in the near future, given the growing global population and people’s ever-increasing transportation needs. That is why the German Aerospace Center is looking at a range of energy sources, including sustainably produced hydrogen and synthetic fuels, in particular low-carbon variants. It examines and optimizes potential use cases in ground transportation, aviation, and space exploration. To efficiently meet the huge demand for sustainable fuels, the German Aerospace Center is developing machinery and processes for industrial applications that will enable sufficient production capacity in the future. This includes the development and refinement of warehousing and storage technologies. The range of applications covers everything from construction and agricultural machinery to marine engines.
3. What are the biggest challenges on the path toward carbon-neutral mobility?
Innovative mobility solutions require new and efficient structures, and they need to be modular and flexible to satisfy a broader spectrum of mobility. But above all, energy consumption must be reduced by increasing efficiency. The Technische Universität Braunschweig, for example, has established the SE²A cluster of excellence with the aim of reducing emissions and noise pollution, ensuring that air transport systems can be recycled, and developing improvements in air traffic management. In all probability, sustainable energy sources and new infrastructure will lead to rising costs.
Legislators around the globe need to work together to counter any impact on society, and global regulation is needed to support the development and implementation of market-based measures such as emissions trading and carbon offsetting. In addition to technological issues, it is vital to take social and economic aspects into account.
4. Do we need more innovation and research to boost Germany’s reputation as a leading business hub?
Germany needs to be readied for future mobility solutions in good time and in a targeted way. Facilitating carbon-neutral mobility by making purposeful progress in unlocking the potential that I mentioned earlier forms part of this. Thanks to the close collaboration between business and the research community, active networks are translating knowledge into innovations. This makes it easier to deliver future-proof solutions profitably and to find answers to the challenges society is facing, in particular in relation to climate change.
In this context, protecting terrestrial, maritime, and space-based infrastructures and ensuring the safety of information systems and data will become increasingly important.
You can find some impressions from the last Nicolaus August Otto Award ceremony here in the form of videos, images, and documents. All media can be downloaded for free.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle
Winner of the Nicolaus August Otto Award 2020