News from the ZWU
Find out about current activities and news from the ZWU network.
As part of the first Day of Honor of the Fire Salamander, information about the amphibian species and its threat was provided at an information booth in the Tierpark Bochum.
Dr. Maximilian Schweinsberg from the ZWU team was on site and informed the visitors about the current state of scientific research on the fire salamander.
In order to be able to produce safer flame retardants in the future, Prof. Dr. Burak Atakan from the Chair of Thermodynamics at UDE is investigating their mode of action together with the German Textile Research Center North-West (DTNW), an affiliated institute of the UDE. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project for the next few years with approximately 612,000 euros.
Flame retardants are used to prevent or delay the spread of fire through highly flammable textiles. However, many of these are harmful to the environment and pose a health risk. Environmentally compatible alternatives are still being sought. "To do this, we first need to better understand the mechanism of action of flame retardants. So far, however, there has been a lack of simplifying experiments that allow the different steps to be studied separately," explains Prof. Burak Atakan.
Prof. Atakan's scientists are setting up a simplifying trainer for experiments in Duisburg for the DFG project. "Here, we are combining our expertise in gas phase analysis with the skills of Dr. Thomas Mayer-Gall. He is the expert at DTNW in Krefeld for the production and application of new flame retardants to textiles. He also contributes his experience in solid phase testing and standardized methods," says Prof. Burak Atakan.
The joint work is intended to provide more research into the basic mode of action of phosphorus- and nitrogen-containing flame retardants in both phases, so that effective and at the same time environmentally friendly alternatives can be produced.
First came the recovery, then the stagnation of biodiversity in European waters. This is the conclusion reached by an international research team led by Prof. Dr. Peter Haase (Senckenberg/UDE) in a study now published in the journal Nature. The scientists show that the biodiversity of the rivers studied has increased significantly since 1968, but they warn that this positive trend has stalled since 2010. The reason: numerous man-made pressures. But there are solutions.
Even though mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies are flying insects - they spend most of their lives as larvae in the water. "These and many other invertebrates contribute to important ecosystem processes in freshwaters. They decompose organic matter, filter water and transport nutrients between aquatic and terrestrial environments. In addition, they are a cornerstone for monitoring water quality," explains first author of the study, Prof. Dr. Peter Haase from the Senckenberg Research Institute. He is also head of the Department of River and Floodplain Ecology at the UDE. He emphasizes, "Such monitoring is immensely important because rivers and lakes are among the ecosystems most at risk of biodiversity loss."
For example, various countermeasures were taken around the world in response to the poor condition of water bodies in the 1950s and '60s. "However, these increases in biodiversity occurred mainly before 2010 and have stagnated since. In addition, stressors are increasing." Haase cites agricultural and urban land use as the main factors here, saying that this causes pollutants, organically contaminated wastewater, fine sediments and pesticides to accumulate in the river. Changes such as dams, water withdrawals, invasive species and climate change also threaten water bodies. Among the more than 1800 time series evaluated are those on water bodies in the Ruhr River basin in the Arnsberg Forest. "In the hot summers of recent years, some of the water bodies dried up temporarily - this in turn has a negative impact on the fauna," says Dr. Armin Lorenz from the Aquatic Ecology Department at UDE and co-author.
According to the study, significant investments are needed: wastewater networks must be expanded and wastewater treatment plants improved so that they no longer overflow during heavy rains, micropollutants are prevented and pollutants are removed more effectively. In addition, agriculture should reduce fertilizers and pesticides near riverbanks. In addition, rivers must be adapted to the future climate, for example through renaturation or by connecting them to floodplains as flood protection.
Microorganisms use genetic scissors to fight viral attackers. In genetic engineering, the microbial immune system is used for targeted modification of the genetic material. Led by Professor Dr. Alexander Probst, microbiologist at the Research Center One Health Ruhr of the Research Alliance Ruhr, a research team has now discovered another function of the specialized genome sequence: archaea - microorganisms that are often visually very similar to bacteria - also use it to fight parasites. The team has now published their findings in Nature Microbiology.
Biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna received the Nobel Prize for the biotechnological application of the CRISPR-Cas systems, or ‘genetic scissors’, for genetic engineering in 2020. However, many functions of this genetic tool are still unexplored to date. Could microorganisms, for example, use them to fight off other microorganisms that live on them as parasites? With this research question in mind, Alexander Probst analysed the genetic material of microbes in the Earth’s deep crust.
With his team, the microbiologist has analysed the water that a geyser in the USA spits to the surface from the depths, as well as samples from the Horonobe underground laboratory in Japan. The research team focused on archaea, which live in the ecosystem as hosts and parasites. The tiny microbes are highly similar to bacteria in cell size but have substantially different physiological properties.
In order to rule out the possibility that they have only come across isolated cases, the researchers have extended the analysis to over 7,000 genomes and observed the phenomenon very frequently. In future research, this finding will also facilitate distinguishing between beneficial symbionts and harmful parasites. If there has been a CRIPSR recognition, the microorganism is very likely to be a parasite. This will probably also help better understand important metabolic processes, such as the carbon flow in ecosystems, in the future
With UDE BioSLiDES*), more than 200 high-resolution digitized microscopic preparations of plants, animals and microorganisms are made available for viewing and downloading. In the web browser, these preparations can be examined in different magnifications, just as directly on the microscope. In contrast to other virtual microscopes, in UDE BioSLiDES the examination object can also be focused in depth over many focal planes. In addition, further information about the organism, its anatomical structures, the preparation and the microscope optics used provide an in-depth insight into the biology and technology of microscopic examinations.
As far as we know, UDE BioSLiDES is unique worldwide in its combination of scope, technology (especially the possibility to focus through the preparations), content orientation, free use and free license.
The second UDE research magazine has been published, this time with a focus on health.
Included in the research magazine is an article about the UDE algae collection and an article about Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst's research on the effect of microorganisms on environmental health.
We hope you enjoy reading!
Award ceremonyYoung Scientist Award 2023
For the fifteenth time, the ZWU has presented the Young Scientist Award (YSA) for outstanding theses by students and young scientists.
This year, the selection committee honored Felix Drees, Hannah-Marie Stappert, Nina Grundmann, Melissa Reibold, Dr. Lotta Laura Hohrenk-Danzouma, Dr. Dakeishla M. Diaz Morales and Dr. Till Leander Valentin Bornemann.
you are cordially invited!The World Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies 2024 will be held in Essen
The organizers expect up to 600 international water professionals in the heart of the Ruhr region. At the Leading Edge Conference for Water and Wastewater Technology (LET), which will take place in Essen from June 24 to 28, 2024, international water experts will exchange ideas on innovations in the water sector.
This network is an essential driver for being able to achieve the global sustainability goals of the United Nations in the field of drinking water supply and wastewater treatment. The LET is helping to shape the future of water and wastewater management worldwide. It is known for promoting breakthrough ideas and facilitating their rapid practical implementation.
The sponsor of the conference, held this year in South Korea, is the London-based International Water Association (IWA). The IWA is the world's largest network of water companies, experts and institutions from 140 countries.
Prof. Norbert Jardin, Chairman of the Board of Ruhrverband: "Climate change is a driver for necessary changes in water management. Ensuring sufficient quantities of water for drinking water supply through innovative dam management and further improving wastewater treatment through optimal process technologies for the eli- mination of trace substances are just two challenges where international knowledge exchange can generate new approaches."
"Innovative and future-oriented technologies are key to meeting the challenges of a changing water sector. The necessary level of ambition requires a more intensive focus on wastewater treatment processes in the coming years," says Dr. Frank Obenaus, EGLV board member for water management and technology.
GELSENWASSER AG, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Dirk Waider: "The climate future demands economical, practicable and safe solutions in water and wastewater management. In our Ruhr region, there are many examples of transformational power and sustainable climate resilience. We want to share these together with ideas from around the world."
The conference will take place at the "Zeche Zollverein" World Heritage Site in Essen. The site itself, a former coal mine turned museum and World Heritage Site, is a symbol of change - from an industrial society shaped by the use of fossil fuels to the sustainable management of the earth's resources. In post-industrial society, water will play an increasingly central role.
The Covid 19 pandemic proved Wastewater is much more than a waste product. Whether it's viruses, bacteria or parasites - when evaluated, it reveals so much about the health of society. A treasure trove of information that is now to be analyzed and evaluated in a project led by the Center for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), to detect future pandemics at an early stage.
Infectious diseases are endangering people, and at the same time antibiotic resistance is on the rise. In order to identify and contain these risks, the collection and evaluation of data can help. This is where the project "Identifying and eliminating environmentally associated infection events in urban areas in NRW" comes in. "It's about gaining information in a holistic context. And our wastewater network with wastewater from households and hospitals, among others, is exactly the right source. After all, not only pathogens but also antibiotic resistance and administered drugs can be detected there," says Dr. Michael Eisinger, project coordinator at ZWU.
So far, this approach has not been systematically pursued in Germany, but has only been used for SARS-Cov-2. "However, the wastewater network could be developed into a map of health status as well as resistance status in the long run," Eisinger explains the goal. After all, by understanding how pathogens and antibiotics are distributed in the wastewater network, potential threats to the public can be identified.
Three ZWU research groups are working together on the interdisciplinary project: the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine at the University Hospital (Prof. Dr. Folker Meyer and PD Dr. Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen), Aquatic Ecology (Prof. Dr. Bernd Sures), the Institute for Urban Public Health (Prof. Dr. Susanne Moebus and Dr. Dennis Schmiege) and Instrumental Analytical Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Torsten Schmidt). Two connected aspects are in focus: On the one hand, detection and analytical methods are to be developed and optimized in order to install sustainable and long-term wastewater monitoring (wastewater epidemiology). On the other hand, methods are to be developed to purify wastewater more effectively from medicinal or microbiological contamination (photocatalysis).
The project started on April 1 and is initially scheduled to run for three years. It is funded by the Stiftung Zukunft NRW foundation. The cooperation partner is the Emschergenossenschaft. The samples come from the Essen wastewater network.
At the end of the 5th Essen Science Summer, we invite you to a special kind of competition: Four dynamic gladiators of science will compete against each other and try to explain their research as excitingly, entertainingly, wittily and understandably as possible in a maximum of 10 minutes. The decision about victory and defeat is up to you - the audience.
Also in the line-up this year is ZWU member Prof. Dr. Florian Leese.
Prof. Dr. Leese is head of the Aquatic Ecosystem Research at the UDE and will give a Science Slam on the topic: "Biodiversity - or the end of diversity".
Participation in the event is free of charge and admission starts at 6:30 pm.
The UDE was one of nine universities to win the nationwide "One University - One Book" competition. With this program, the Stifterverband and the Klaus Tschira Foundation, together with the ZEIT publishing house, award the best ideas and actions for a living campus culture. The winners get supported with 10,000 euros each. The UDE had chosen "Biodiversity. 100 Seiten" by the young author Jasmin Schreiber.
The book describes in a generally understandable way and with real-life examples what the term "biodiversity" means, what the loss of biological diversity means for us humans, and what everyone can do to counter it.
At the UDE, water and environmental research is a profile focus, and thus also the topic of biodiversity. Prof. Leese, Aquatic Ecosystem Research, and Prof. Karen Shire, Vice Rector for University Culture, Diversity and International Affairs, submitted the concept to the Stifterverband on behalf of the UDE - and convinced the jury. "Jasmin Schreiber's book works through central aspects of ecology and evolutionary biology in breathtaking briefness, building on them to illuminate the current "drama" on our planet very vividly and to show options for solutions. It is this briefness and the very direct address that make the small Reclam book particularly suitable for an introduction to the topic. And that is exactly what we want: To get people talking about biodiversity," says Prof. Leese.
The goal of One University - One Book is to strengthen the exchange and identification of all members with their university and to involve the public.
And that is what is planned at the UDE for the next 12 months: Reading corners will be set up in both university libraries with the young author's book and other books on the topic. There will be a project week. University members, student associations such as the Campus Garden and the family service DU-E-Kids will implement ideas to improve biodiversity on the UDE campuses in the long term.
There will also be science slams in pubs, open lab days, field trips and other events for students and schoolchildren, and much more. "The important topic of biodiversity will thus become part of our university culture in a thoughtful, creative - and somewhat playful - way," emphasizes Vice Rector Karen Shire.
The research institute IUTA has a new name. In the future, the affiliated institute of the UDE will be called: IUTA - Institute for Environment & Energy, Technology & Analytics. On the one hand, the name clarifies the thematic focus on the areas of environment & energy and, on the other hand for the expertise in technology & analytics. The acronym IUTA, the logo and the claim "research, network, apply" remain unchanged.
The name change is a result of the IUTA-2030 strategy process, in the course of which the structure of the institute was simplified and the guiding themes sharpened: the now nine research departments and two central departments work on interdepartmental research, development and service projects under the four guiding themes "Aerosols & Particle Technology", "Air Pollution Control & Gas Process Technology", "Recycling Management & Water Technology" and "Analytics & Measurement Technology". Compared to the previous name "Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology", the new name is intended to reflect the growing importance of analytics and measurement technology for the institute.
IUTA is an application-oriented research institute and forms the bridge between basic university research and small and medium-sized businesses in the field of energy and environmental technology. With a focus on process engineering and analytics, the employees mainly conduct application-oriented research and development projects in cooperation with industrial partners. Prof. Dr. Dieter Bathen, holder of the UDE Chair of Thermal Process Engineering, is also the scientific director of IUTA.
Approval of the research project!New research project i-Molch
A new research project has been approved at the Chair of Aquatic Microbiology, in which basic principles for an ecological assessment of groundwater are being developed.
In the Water-Frame-Work Directive of the EU, a good chemical and ecological status is required for all waters. For surface waters, there are established and well-functioning criteria for assessing the status. For groundwater, however, only the chemical status can be analyzed, as there are no recognized methods yet that can assess the ecological status of groundwater.
The BMBF-funded consortium of universities and companies is coordinated at Ruhr-Uni Bochum by Prof. Dr. Tobias Licha and aims to close this gap in order to be able to sustainably protect groundwater as our most important drinking water resource. Prof. Meckenstock's group will specifically focus on microbial ecology in groundwater, as microorganisms are the most important actors for the self-purification forces in groundwater.
The project officially started on 1.03.23!
The Water Graduate School (WGS) is locatedat the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE, Campus Essen) and provides a comprehensive programme to all doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in water research in the network of the Centre for Water and Environmental Research.
Onthe WGS was formally launched with about 120 participants, including speakers from the water sector (Prof. Dr. Hans-Curt Flemming, Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt (IAC-UDE) and other graduate programmes (Dr. Thea Göhring (DFG) and Prof. Dr. Dittmer from (BIOME-UDE). In addition to the traditional talks, Prof. Dr. Florian Leese, Jun. Prof. Dr. Anzhela and Dr. Dennis Schmiege presented a science slam about their research topics to the audience. Various members of the ZWU network also shared their career experiences on stage (Christoph Koch (EAH Jena), Fabian Itzel (LINEG), Beate Krok (ZWU-UDE)), Daniel Teschlade (Ruhrverband), Sonja Rückert (UDE), Michael Eisinger (ZWU-UDE), Viktoria Berger (Wupperverband), Stefan Weber (Chemstars)) and their expertise at the network market (IWW, Green Ocean, Ruhrverband, Wupperverband, various working groups/projects of the UDE and RUB, Chemstars, EAH Jena, ZWU/ZMB, LINEG). Many of the participating students and (post)doctoral researchers took the opportunity to chat and network.
the WGS will be part of a programme related to the core area of research (water quality, biodiversity or urban water cycle) or to the soft skill foci (supervision, teaching and project management). The programme includes various workshops, lectures, seminars and annual retreats as well as team building and outreach activities.
Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers interested in joining the WGS can contact the coordinator Dr. Vanessa Kramer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the WGS speakers PD Dr. Ursula Telgheder (email@example.com) and Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Membership is complimentary.
The Jochen Block Award 2023 of the German Catalysis Society is awarded to Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Corina Andronescu (Technical Chemistry III, UDE) for her significant contributions to method development for the stable immobilization of catalysts on electrodes for energy conversion and storage.
With her research at UDE, Andronescu wants to counteract global warming. She is working on a solution for converting CO2 into usable fuels such as methanol and on electrocatalytic water splitting, which produces hydrogen. Its focus is on developing electrocatalytically active materials. They make the storage and conversion of renewable energies possible.
The Jochen Block Award is endowed with 3,000 euros and honors exceptional achievements by young scientists. It was presented at the annual meeting of German catalysts in Weimar on March 16, 2023.
Congratulations on the award!
During the Chemistry Lecturers' Conference at the Technical University of Dresden, Professor Dr. Kai S. Exner (Theoretical Inorganic Chemistry, UDE) was awarded the prestigious Carl Duisberg Memorial Prize of the German Chemical Society (GDCh). The GDCh honors Prof. Kai S. Exner for his outstanding conceptual contributions in the highly topical and -competitive fields of theoretical electrocatalysis and battery research.
Producing hydrogen only from water and solar energy - researchers worldwide are working on this sustainable way. Prof. Kai S. Exner has now been able to demonstrate that previous modeling assumed mechanisms that were too simple and therefore did not deliver reliable results. He published his analysis in the journal Materials Horizon.
Among other things, his findings are incorporated into the work of the Collaborative Research Center/Transregio Heterogeneous Oxidation Catalysis in the Liquid Phase, in which researchers at UDE are significantly involved. The latter develops catalytic materials and processes to produce chemicals sustainably and efficiently.
The Carl Duisberg Memorial Award, endowed with 7500 euros, has been awarded since 1936 to young university teachers who work at a German university or as Germans at a foreign university, do not yet hold a W2/W3 or comparable position, and have not yet exceeded the age of 40. Of the prize money, 5000 euros go directly to the award winner and the remaining 2500 euros to the working group.
Congratulations on the award!
A milestone for nature conservationThe Vjosa River in Albania proclaimed Europe's first wild river national park
On March 15, 2023, the Vjosa River in Albania was proclaimed Europe's first wild river national park. From now on, the entire Vjosa River in Albania from the Greek border to the Adriatic Sea, as well as its main tributaries - a total river system of over 400 kilometers in length - will be designated as a national park. This is unique in Europe. With the Vjosa, one of the last large unspoiled wild rivers in Europe, a river system is protected for the first time.
In recent years, scientists have studied the biodiversity of the Vjosa River and its tributaries and have highlighted the great importance for the ecosystem. Marie Brasseur from the Aquatic Ecosystem Research Group at the UDE, together with other scientists, has made a contribution to the research of biodiversity in the Vjosa. The results have just been published here.
On March 15, 2023, the National Water Strategy was adopted by the Federal Cabinet. The strategy was developed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) together with representatives from the water industry, agriculture and research, associations, federal states and municipalities as part of the two-year National Water Dialogue.
The goal of the National Water Strategy is the sustainable use of our water resources, sustainable management, securing the water supply and protecting our waters. In the long term access to high-quality drinking water is to be maintained, responsible management of ground and surface waters is to be ensured in other sectors as well, and the natural water balance and ecological development of our water bodies are to be supported. The 78 measures of the action program for the National Water Strategy are to be implemented step by step by 2023.
She develops energy-efficient methods to produce hydrogen for the energy transition or to bind climate-damaging carbon dioxide: Junior Professor Dr. Corina Andronescu. Now the UDE chemist has received the Gottschalk-Diederich-Baedeker Prize. This prize is awarded by the G.D. Baedeker Foundation to scientists who bring their outstanding research to industry.
With the prize, the foundation wants to make the benefits of UDE research for the Ruhr metropolitan region visible. Corina Andronescu's work is a perfect example of this. The 35-year-old is investigating how, for example, catalytic hydrogen production can be made more sustainable on a larger scale in the future.
Laudator Prof. Dr. Stephan Barcikowski was particularly pleased with the "double whammy" that Andronescu brings to the Faculty of Chemistry. She just received the prestigious Joachim Walter Schultze Award from the Association of Electrochemical Research Institutions in September.
Andronescu has been at the UDE since 2018 and is well connected in the research community. She is vice speaker of ACTIVES SITES, a research building currently under construction at the campus in Essen. Research is being conducted there on active centers in aqueous environments that play an important role in chemical and biological processes, including electrochemical energy conversion.
Climate change puts water bodies and the landscape in extreme situations. What measures will help water bodies to cope with these events? The research project "KliMaWerk - Water:Landscape" now aims to find answers to this question. Researchers from the Aquatic Ecology department of the UDE are also involved.
In two representative areas in the catchment area of the Lippe - one rural and one urban - regular investigations will be carried out for two years at more than 30 sites. The aim is to find out how the river and nature react to low water and drying situations alternating with heavy rainfall events and how successful the measures already taken, such as renaturation, shading or retention basins, are. The scientists of the Aquatic Ecology Department of the UDE are investigating the effects of measures taken on flowing waters on discharge, water temperature and colonization.
The KliMaWerk project is being carried out by the Lippeverband, the UDE, the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, the Ecologic Research Institute, the companies Hydrotec and delta h, and the Koenzen planning office. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the "KliMaWerk" joint project until the beginning of 2025 as part of the "WaX" funding measure under the federal "Water: N" program.
Environmental metagenomic researchers take the material for their samples directly from the natural habitat instead of first cultivating it microbiologically. At the Research Center (RC) One Health, Professor Probst analyzes the genome of microbes - i.e. bacteria, archaea and viruses - that live in rivers, lakes and groundwater.
UDE Professor Probst is supported in the UA Ruhr by colleagues from biology, chemistry, medicine, neurosciences and environmental sciences from the universities of Bochum, Duisburg-Essen, TU Dortmund and the University Hospital Essen. Starting at the molecular level, they investigate the fundamentals of health and disease all the way to plants and animals. "The ecosystem serves as a context for us to investigate the complex interrelationships between environmental, animal and human health in the sense of the 'One Health' concept," adds Prof. Dr. Dirk Schadendorf, Director of the Research Center One Health Ruhr.
The RC One Health Ruhr is one of four research centers in which the UA Ruhr of the universities of Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen organizes its cutting-edge research on urgent issues on an international and interdisciplinary basis. The other three centers deal with 'Chemical Sciences and Sustainability', 'Trustworthy Data Science and Security' and 'Future Energy Materials and Systems'. Their results and the College for Social Sciences and Humanities are intended to strengthen the Metropole Ruhr as a science location and have an impact beyond the region. The UA Ruhr was initiated by the Ruhr Conference and is supported by the state government of NRW with 75 million euros in the start-up phase.
The ZWU says thank you and wishes all the best!Martin Denecke - Farewell into retirement
From the very beginning of his research and teaching activities at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Prof. Dr. Martin Denecke has consistently incorporated scientific content into engineering research and teaching. The natural science content was never an end in itself, but was always practically related to specific plants and processes. In recent years, molecular biological and biochemical analysis methods have played an increasingly prominent role in optimizing the operation and planning of environmentally relevant plants. Furthermore, many of the insights gained are being incorporated into models represent the processes in plants better.
Martin Denecke has incorporated the findings from high-quality and up-to-date research into a well-planned course. In particular, the course "Environmental Agenda" was newly developed by him. He was the responsible student advisor in the Department of Building Sciences and always open to the interests of the students. In addition, numerous theses and doctoral dissertations were successfully supervised by him.
In the context of international cooperation and mobility, his cooperation with the Advanced Wastewater Managemet Center of the University of Brisbane and a visiting professorship at the Universiti Kebaangsan Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia supported the expansion and supervision of the double degree program with the University of Kebansaan Kuala Lumpur and thus extended it to civil engineering. He has been deeply involved in the Transnational Water Management (TWM) program, which is jointly organized with Radboud University Nijmegen.
With his research and teaching activities, Martin Denecke has impressively anchored current research-relevant topics in research and teaching. Through numerous publications of these scientifically valuable findings, they could be documented in a larger context.
The ZWU thanks him for his many years of commitment to water research at the University of Duisburg-Essen and wishes him all the best for the new phase of his life!
After the ZWU has been keeping its members up to date via Twitter for some time now, you can now also find the ZWU on Instagram!
Here we do our best to inform and entertain you with pictures and short videos about all topics around the ZWU.
We are looking forward to seeing you on the ZWU account and to welcoming many new followers!
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.