Research Unit

The Research Unit Water Quality Management deals with a broad range of the anthropogenic water system and the aquatic environment through teaching and research, and is headed by Jörg Krampe, opens in new window. On issues related to the water quantity management, there is close collaboration with the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management.

The main research areas are an integral part of the TU’s research focus on “Energy and Environment, opens an external URL in a new window” reflecting the universities mission statement: "technology for people". In that regard not only biological, technical and operative aspects of wastewater treatment are addressed, but water body immissions, water resource management and monitoring techniques are our core expertise too.

The research center is divided into three research groups. Additionally a laboratory and pilot plant area is supporting research:

This area of research involves developing innovative methods and concepts for wastewater treatment from the laboratory to the industrial scale and their technological implementation. Under the coordination of Jörg Krampe und Norbert Kreuzinger, opens in new window, methodologies are developed and assessed in order to optimize municipal and industrial wastewater treatment processes technically and operationally.

To improve the system awareness under variable process conditions, dynamic models for the simulation of different operating parameters and treatment targets are introduced that help develop optimised strategies for different system conditions.

As a sink for a wide range of wastewater constituents, sewage sludge is gaining in importance not only as a resource of nutrients (as in phosphorus recycling), but also as an energy source. The focus of research is concerned with making advancements in the production of energy from sewage sludge, also in combination with organic waste, in order to achieve energy self supply.

In addition to projects on process optimisation in wastewater treatment systems for the industrial sector, we also work on developing new treatment processes that are designed for specific, usually industrial, needs and problems.

The main focus of the research group is on Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in the urban water cycle.

The behavior of

  • organic trace compounds
  • engineered nanoparticles
  • microplastics
  • antibiotic resistance

in wastewater treatment processes and the aquatic environment is examined. The group also addresses practical implementation issues.

The overarching goal of the group headed by Matthias Zessner, opens in new window is to identify and quantify sources and pathways of contaminants emissions into surface water bodies. The spectrum of the studied substances is broad, including nutrients (N and P), heavy metals and organic trace pollutants. The focus on diffuse emissions makes the team, its work and its collaborations highly interdisciplinary, since several different competences need to converge to understand the complex processes taking place in river catchments.

A core activity of the team is the modelling of emissions at catchment scales, with MONERIS, MoRE and PhosFate being the central tools. Another relevant task is the application and development of methodologies to analyse the flow of materials and substance balances across scales and environmental or anthropogenic compartments within river basins. The third pillar of this team is the development of innovative techniques and strategies for an optimised water quality monitoring. Given the ambivalent and crucial role of phosphorus as contaminant and limited resource, a main research activity aims to understand the potentials of recycling from wastewater and sewage sludge and to quantify its environmental and economic implications.

The projects share the common goal of supporting policies and river basin management at local, regional, national and transnational level. Therefore, the ambition of the team is to progress scientific understanding and methodologies to address relevant practical research questions.

The research group Molecular Microbiology in Sanitary Engineering under Julia Vierheilig has a long tradition in water and wastewater microbiology and in the quantification of microbiological and chemical processes in water / wastewater treatment and waterbodies. In that context it deals with the identification and solution of biological problems in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment.

Wastewater epidemiological investigations in connection with Sars-CoV-2 are currently of great importance.The group also addresses practical implementation issues.

The three research groups are interlocked and closely work together within particular projects.

The interdisciplinary nature of the team (in fields such as civil engineering, chemical engineering, microbiology, environmental engineering, and food chemistry) provides for comprehensive scientific analysis of complex issues. An important objective of the research center is the contact with practitioners, in order to ensure that the research is focused and able to address problems relevant to the field.

Research output