News from the ZWU
Find out about current activities and news from the ZWU network.
On 22/23 November 2022, the ZWU is organising the River Basin Management Workshop together with the DWA.
The two-day workshop will deal with the achievement of the objectives of the European Water Framework Directive, the development of the management plans and target-oriented measures for implementation.
The workshop will thus focus on the following key topics:
- Current core aspects of water management - extreme weather conditions
- Current core aspects of water management - material pressures
- Water management activities in the third management cycle
- Current developments in the fish fauna quality element
- Challenges and further developments in river basin modelling
We are looking forward to numerous registrations!
The new UDE research magazine shows how scientists find and implement solutions to the pressing questions of our time. It starts with the main topic of water.
Into the lab, out into the field or immerse yourself in the study: the research magazine offers exciting insights across science - in German and English. Each issue is planned around a focal point. The first is water. It is the basis of all life and an increasingly scarce resource. Extensive research is therefore conducted on it at the UDE and it forms one of our five profile focal points. Discover how the health of a body of water is measured, why a once dead river is now considered a global model and how a journey through time is possible through flora and fauna.
We hope you enjoy reading it!
Water is becoming increasingly scarce on our planet. And the available water is often polluted. Dr Libing Zheng wants to optimise purification. He is currently a scholarship holder with Professor Mathias Ulbricht in Technical Chemistry.
Water purification is now standard in many countries. "In industry, we could also use seawater," says Libing Zheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Membrane distillation (MD), for example, makes this possible.
At the UDE Dr. Zheng would like to use magnetic particles to combat fouling, among other things.
The European Water Association (EWA) has accepted the ZWU as a Research Member.
The EWA is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit organisation and one of the largest associations in Europe. Among its members from almost all European countries are research institutions, national associations, scientists, consultants and companies.
Membership provides the ZWU and its members with access to a network of European associations and institutions, information from Brussels and Strasbourg as well as EWA workshops and conferences.
We look forward to a great cooperation and exchange!
The Ruhr Prize for Art and Science of the City of Mülheim an der Ruhr for 2022 will be awarded to Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt this year in recognition of his exceptional scientific achievements in the field of water. In addition to his proven teaching and research activities at the UDE, his successful work over many years as one of the scientific directors at the IWW Centre for Water is particularly instrumental in spreading and consolidating Mülheim's excellent scientific reputation as a location for cutting-edge research.
"Successful research is characterised by teamwork. My gratitude therefore goes to my excellent colleagues!" says Prof. Schmidt.
Prof. Schmidt receives the award together with the visual artist Alexander Voß. Both main prizes are endowed with 3,000 euros each. The award ceremony will take place on 4 December.
The Faculty of Chemistry is now one of the institutions that have joined the Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) of the international organisation Beyond Benign. In doing so, it commits itself to making sustainability an integral part of teaching and to reducing or even avoiding hazardous substances. Dean Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt and Prof. Dr. Stefan Rumann, Vice-Rector for Studies, Teaching and Education at the UDE, signed the agreement.
The initiative to follow the principles of Green Chemistry came from the students. They saw some of the goals formulated in the GCC already anchored in the faculty and wanted to strengthen the orientation.
Dr Anna Rosa Ziefuß and Tina Friedenauer from AG Barcikowski have developed a new brewing process: Instead of letting the coffee grounds steep at room temperature for at least twelve hours, their process takes only three minutes - thanks to lasers. They published their result in npj Science of Food.
Now the two want to start up LEoPARD. LEoPARD stands for Laser-based Extraction offers Pure and Advanced Refreshment Drinks - which shows where the two see the market potential. "It's not the coffee, but the laser-based manufacturing process that has a huge event character. So we envision renting out appropriate laser systems for events, like weddings. But you could also rent it out or license it to coffee houses." In addition, the process may also become interesting for the beverage industry in the future, as tea or matcha could also be produced this way.
A video of the process is available on the Instagram page.
Our long-standing ZWU member Prof. Dr. Christoph Donner will become the new Chairman of the Executive Board as well as Head of the Technology Department of Berliner Wasserbetriebe from January 2023. Previously, the 52-year-old was head of the technology department at Rheinisch-Westfälische Wasserwerksgesellschaft mbH. He already worked for Berliner Wasserbetriebe between 2004 and 2009, including four years as Head of Corporate Development and Head of National Participation at Berlinwasser Holding. Prof. Dr. Donner studied hydrogeology at the universities of Clausthal and Tübingen from 1992 to 1997 and received his doctorate from the Dortmund Institute for Water Research in 2000. In 2021, Donner received an honorary professorship from the University of Duisburg-Essen, where he regularly teaches in the field of civil engineering, with a focus on urban water management.
Mr Donner will remain actively associated with the ZWU and continue his teaching activities at the UDE.
The ZWU congratulates him warmly and wishes him all the best for his new tasks.
Funding for the new ACTIVE SITES research building has been secured: Following the Science Council, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) has now also given green light for the new 70-million-euro building. The costs are shared by the federal and state governments and the UDE. With ACTIVE SITES the UDE gains a centre of international renown at which so-called active sites are researched in an aqueous environment. These have an important role in chemical and biological processes, such as energy conversion, water purification and active subtances development. Starting 2026, scientists from various disciplines will conduct research together in state-of-the-art laboratories.
The goal of the project is to develop new methods based on large-scale instruments that use knowledge from different disciplines to study active centres. Active sites are understood to be binding and reaction sites for molecules. The challenge here is to observe the course of reactions live and in their natural environment. "Until now, active sites have mostly been analyzed either in artificial environments or only indirectly, by comparing them before and after the reaction," explains Prof. Corina Andronescu, a technical chemist and deputy spokesperson of ACTIVE SITES. "We want to visualize the reaction in the natural aqueous environment. To do this, we will develop a set of methods that specifically brings together and combines expertise from the different fields of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. This approach of working across disciplines as well as across substances is unique so far."
Scientists from Jena have used a highly sensitive measuring method to investigate in more detail how microorganisms in rocks are able to produce biomass from inorganic substances. Alexander Probst, UDE Professor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology, and his colleague Till Bornemann were also involved in the investigations. They carried out bioinformatic analyses.
The team was able to show for the first time the extent to which these communities produce biomass in absolute darkness. The results provide new insights into the functioning of these subterranean ecosystems, which provide an essential part of our drinking water.
The study was published in Nature Geoscience.
Publication of the DGMT policy paperDGMT policy paper: Membrane technology for the prevention of antibiotic resistence in waters
The DGMT working group on micropollutants has developed a policy paper on "Membrane technology to prevent antibiotic resistance in water", which has just been published.
The position paper informs about the problem of resistances in wastewater and shows possible technical solutions.
Congratulations!Dr. Christian Donner becomes honorary professor at the UDE's Department of Urban Water Management and Waste Management.
Dr. Christoph Donner has been a lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen for over 10 years in the Urban Water Management Unit. His expertise ranges from the basics of water management to specific topics such as asset management.
Dr. Donner is involved in numerous national and international projects on water management, including the research college "Future Water" (see picture).
We look forward to welcoming an interdisciplinary thinker, practitioner and pioneer in water management!
The Chrysophyceae Symposium will be held this year at the University of Duisburg-Essen, from 8.8. to 11.8.22.Preparation is now well underway for our Symposium, which will be an in-person meeting format following a two-year delay due to the global COVID-19 crisis.
Following the focus of several previous symposia it will provide a forum to present work on all aspects of chrysophyte investigations including biodiversity, evolution, ecology, systematics, and experimental morphology. Although the overriding theme of the symposium will focus on chrysophytes, investigations of allied taxa as well as of other mixotrophic algae are welcome.
5.3 million euros for power-to-X platformClimate-neutral chemistry
Electricity from fossil fuels should disappear from the production chain as far as possible - not only to protect the environment, but also to become less dependent on imports. NRW wants to get a little closer to this goal and is now funding the construction of a power-to-X test platform at the UDE with 5.3 million euros. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the overall leader of the SPIN* project. Other project partners are Evonik Industries and Fraunhofer (FhG) UMSICHT.
"With the Power-to-X test platform, we are connecting the electricity, heat and gas grids as well as the mobility sector. This so-called sector coupling is a key technology on the way to the energy transition and the targeted climate neutrality," explains Professor Klaus Görner, the scientific director of the project. At the same time, the UDE researchers have the necessary infrastructure with the plant to manufacture further products whose intermediate component is energy in the form of hydrogen. The project will initially be funded for three years.
WDR Lokalzeit visits SFB ResistFilm about the ExStream project
WDR Lokalzeit visited the Collaborative Research Centre SFB Resist to film a documentary on research into multiple stressors.
The WDR reported on ExStream, which uses mesocosms to test the effects of three stressors on groups of organisms and on ecosystem functions.
For this purpose, stream water is pumped into collection tanks from which it feeds up to 128 circular mesocosms. In the mesocosms, several stressors can be applied simultaneously in a full factorial design with eight replicates per stressor combination.
The hydrological-water management conference, HYWATA, is a four-day interdisciplinary networking event for students of all disciplines related to water (hydrology, hydrobiology, water management, cultural engineering, hydraulic engineering, geosciences, process engineering for water treatment and civil and environmental engineering).
HYWATA was held for the first time in 2012 at the Technical University of Dresden. Due to its success, there were further "HYWATAs" in Dresden and in Vienna in 2015, 2017 and 2018. In 2022, a group of students from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) will bring this successful concept to Essen for the first time. The UDE team consists of students from the DVGW university group AquaSmarTech, the study programme "Management and Technology of Water and Wastewater" and the study programme "Water Science".
The unique history and landscape of the Emscher and Ruhr region is the reason for the many water management associations and societies, and it also explains the high presence of corresponding cultural and research institutions - most of which are in intensive cooperation with the diverse water study programmes at the UDE. HYWATA 2022 will be held from 8 to 11 June at the Essen campus under the motto "The Challenge of Water Management in the Emscher and Ruhr Region - History, Present and Future".
Registrations from internal and external students are open from 8 March to 8 April.
At the NRW State Chancellery, the Rectors of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the Technische Universität Dortmund and the UDE signed the extended cooperation agreement for the establishment of the "Research Alliance Ruhr". Minister President Hendrik Wüst and Science Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen also handed over the allocation letter for funds amounting to 75 million euros for the start-up phase. The new research alliance was developed within the framework of the Ruhr Conference initiated by the state government.
The three universities are now setting up four new Research Centres and a "College for Social Sciences and Humanities". The four research centres deal with the topics "Future Energy Materials and Systems", "Chemical Sciences and Sustainability", "Trustworthy Data Science and Security" and "One Health". The latter is supported by the participation of the ZWU in the area of Ecosystem Health.
In total, up to 50 new professorships will be created, as well as numerous positions for mid-level researchers. Preparations for the first appointment procedures have already begun.
The full expansion of research centres and colleges is to be achieved by 2025. The goal is to establish a top-class international research alliance.
The International Office of the UDE awards Hasan Idrees the DAAD Prize 2021 on behalf of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for his achievements and social commitment. Mr. Idrees studies water technology at the UDE and has, among other things, co-founded the university group AquaSmarTech.
AquaSmartTech has been up and running at UDE since 2015. The university group, founded with the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), aims to connect UDE students and teachers with the professional world. To this end, it informs first-year students individually about their studies or offers information seminars and support in the search for internships, theses and jobs in the fields of water, environmental technology and hydraulic engineering.
In addition, the native Syrian runs a blog in which he addresses questions about living and entering Germany, health policy issues or labor law. The blog is not only aimed at students, but also at migrants from all countries. At the moment, however, it is only available in Arabic.
The ZWU congratulates very warmly on the award!
With an ejection height of up to 60 meters, the geyser in Andernach is the world's largest cold-water geyser. Dr. Alexander J. Probst, biology professor at the UDE Faculty of Chemistry, found out which single-celled organisms live there and how they bind CO2. The results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
For Probst and his doctoral student Till Bornemann, what is particularly interesting is what happens at the very bottom of the geyser. The UDE researchers most frequently found so-called altiarchaea. Professor Probst is also researching these single-celled organisms in a sulfur spring near Regensburg.
The interdisciplinary study involved UDE scientists from analytical chemistry (AG Schmidt), geology (AG Schreiber) and microbiology (AG Probst). Geysir.info gGmbH provided support, for example, with long-term measurements of water chemistry. Further analyses are planned in the "MultiKulti" project, which is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with 2.5 million euros over three years.
On September 27-28, 2022, the Water Research Horizon Conference (WRHC) on the topic: "Aquatic Ecosystems between Conservation and Exploitation" will take place in Essen, Germany. In 2022, the WRHC will be organized by the Water Science Alliance and ZWU.
The Water Research Horizon Conference (WRHC) is a platform for dialogue on the major challenges in water research. Within its framework, the scientific community meets annually to discuss interdisciplinary issues to be addressed through integrated approaches.
Find out more about the programme.
The Atacama Desert stretches along Chile's Pacific coast over 100,000 square kilometers. It is one of the most arid places in the world. Annual precipitation averages 0.5 mm, less than Death Valley in California.
Prof. A. Probst (Aquatic Microbial Ecology, UDE) and his international team have now discovered unicellular archaea there that have developed numerous resistances. They occur under rock-covered parts of the desert, where they are protected from UV radiation. The boulder-covered areas comprise up to a quarter of the extremely dry core of the Atacama Desert. So far, no life has been searched for there.
For space exploration, he said, this finding is important. "The Atacama Desert is considered a Mars analog." If terrestrial life strikes the red planet unplanned, it probably spreads widely, as the viruses' dispersal patterns showed. In addition, he said, there could be zones of life possible under Martian debris, just as there are here, despite drought and UV radiation.
The study involved researchers from the Technical Universities of Berlin and Duisburg-Essen, the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, and the U.S. universities of Harvard (Cambridge) and Rhode Island, Kingston.
The MERLIN* collaborative project coordinated by Prof. Hering & Dr. Birk (Aquatische Ökologie, UDE) is funded by the EU with 21 million euros until 2025. The project involves 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations as well as stakeholders from industry, administration and muncicipalities.
MERLIN seeks new , widely applicable solutions for restoring the functions of freshwater ecosystems, for example to improve flood retention and store carbon dioxide.
10 million of the EU funding will go to 17 areas from Finland to Israel, where streams, rivers as well as bogs and wetlands are currently being restored to a near-natural state. These major projects will be expanded and upscaled with EU funding and developed into European-wide models. In Germany, the restoration of the Emscher is one of the supported projects. After the former dirty watercourse has already been cleaned and redesigned in a near-natural way at great expense, MERLIN is now contributing to the further upgrading of the watercourse environment.
* MERLIN – Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation“
34 applicants were able to prevail in the preselection for the competition "InnovationUmweltwirtschaft.NRW" and were recommended for promotion. Two projects by Prof. Niemann (Wasserbau & Wasserwirtschaft, UDE) are among the successful projects:
Abot-Modell-WKA -Validation of a control tool for the fish behavior-related control of hydropower plants coordinated by Büro für Umweltplanung, Gewässermanagement und Fischerei
Smart Green City –Relocate sensors for a smart urban water balance coordinated by Okeanos Consulting GbR
The theoretical physicist Stéphane Kenmoe developed the series called: „Science in the City“ which is shown on African television (DASH TV) and YouTube. Now his commitment to science communication is being recognized at the Berlin „Falling Walls“-Konferenz
Kenmoe, who works as a postdoc at the Chair of Theoretical Chemistry came out on top among 189 submissions and 50 finalists and is one of the 20 winners in the „Science Engagement“ category. At the Beginning of November he is allowed to present his project to a global audience at the „Falling Walls“-Konferenz and has the chance to secure the title "Breakthrough of the year“.
Growing microorganisms and their natural communities in the laboratory - this is the goal of the new research project MultiKulti at the University of Oldenburg. The research team - including members from the Aquatic Microbial Ecology department at the UDE - is developing a bioreactor that simulates the natural living conditions of microbes. The BMBF is funding the project with 2.5 million euros for 3 years.
The UDE researchers will apply bioinformatics methods that make it possible to predict the metabolism of the target microbes. In addition, a method based on DNA sequencing technology for reactor monitoring will be developed.
Prof. Probst (Aquatic Microbial Ecology, UDE) and an international group of researchers found altiarchaea in the groundwater of the Mühlbach sulfur spring in Isling, Regensburg. They came across the unknown viruses that infect the microorganisms when analyzing water taken from a 35 m deep aquifer at the sulfur spring. In the labaratory, the viral pathogens cannot yet be grown in the laboratory and are therefore nameless.
Probst, A. et al.: „Lytic archaeal viruses infect abundant primary producers in Earth’s crust”, in: Nature Communications 12 (30 July 2021): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24803-4
In this work, researchers led by Ms. Ziefuss (Technical Chemistry I) demonstrate the size-controlled generation of ligand-free gold nanoclusters by a modern laser-based synthesis method. These species exhibit bright blue fluorescence whose intensity is a direct function of the surface charge density, which can be easily tuned by the pH of the surrounding medium. The researchers have succeeded for the first time in producing such small particles without organic biomolecules on the surface and observing the optical properties.
The study, in which several UDE working groups were involved, was carried out as part of a DFG research project. The research topic offers thematic points of contact for photocatalysis research, which is being carried out as part of the FutureWaterCampus (FWC).
The ICRS International Coral Reef Society - the most important society for coral reef research - has awarded its honorary prize to UDE Professor Helmut Schuhmacher.
The former head of the then Institute of Ecology, now Aquatic Ecology, at UDE is considered one of Germany's leading coral reef ecologists and made a name for himself primarily through his studies on the effects of climate change and pollution on reefs.
Using microorganisms as standard indicators of oil and gas deposits to prevent environmentally damaging test drilling: This is what the "Prospectomics" project aims to achieve. Researchers around UDE professor Alexander Probst are significantly involved. The EU is funding the project for 42 months with 3.4 million euros.
The project takes a molecular biology approach: Changes in sediments above reservoirs should indicate where microorganisms are exposed to hydrocarbons. Using modern bioinformatics methods, "Prospectomics" aims to investigate how changes in microbial communities can be detected using metagenomics, -transcriptomics and -proteomics.
Under the leadership of the UDE, researchers in the project "TrenDNA - Investigations on Biodiversity with the Federal Environmental Specimen Bank" are working together with researchers from the University of Trier, the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the Fraunhofer IME to develop new genetic methods with which samples can be evaluated.
High-throughput sequencing will be used to take a comprehensive look at biodiversity trends over time and develop measures, says Florian Leese, spokesman for the project.
Remediation work has begun on the former industrial site at Thurmfeld. The contaminated soil will be processed until fall 2022, after which construction of the FutureWaterCampus will begin.
The Westdeutsche Allgemeine WAZ was present at the site inspection and reported:
The German Water Science Alliance e.V. (WSA), a cross-disciplinary community of German water research, has just published the strategy framework paper
as well as a first water point of view on the draft of the National Water Strategy of the Federal Ministry for the Environment.
Together with the UDE Chair of Mechanical Process Engineering / Water Technology, the ZWU coordinates the cooperation project "Egyptian-German Academic Excellence in Water Treatment and Desalination (Excel-Water)", which is funded by the DAAD for 4 years.
The aim of the project is the establishment of educational programs for the training of qualified workers in Egypt. The UDE cooperates with Egyptian partners, the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) and the Fayoum University (FU).
The international joint project "Sustainable and cost-effective production of drinking water from eutrophic and micro-polluted water using a membrane hybrid process (SUPREMES)", coordinated by the UDE Chair of Mechanical Process Engineering / Water Technology and the ZWU, will receive three years of funding from the BMBF starting in June 2021.
Partners in the application-oriented research project are the University of Novi Sad in Serbia and Essen-based Cornelsen Umwelttechnologie GmbH.