Systems Engineering for Water and Wastewater


© Fraunhofer IKTS
Pellet reactor for anaerobic treatment of industrial process waters and subsequent recovery of recyclable materials (MAP precipitation).
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Pilot plant combining photocatalysis and functionalized ceramic membranes for the removal of micropollutants from pharmaceutical and chemical process waters.

In the working group we develop, test and optimize novel processes, integrated reactor systems as well as components for the treatment of wastewater, in particular for industrial process water. Our focus is on the development of innovative hybrid processes, combining technologies based on functionalized membranes and electrochemical and photocatalytic oxidation processes with conventional processes (e.g., aerobic or anaerobic treatment) in an application-specific manner. In practice, it is often necessary to couple newly developed technologies to find a tailored, technically and economically viable solution for specific tasks of process water or wastewater treatment for industrial customers or for applications in the municipal environment. With targeted process combinations, even difficult-to-treat ingredients can be systematically degraded in centralized and decentralized plants.

As a result of the increasing scarcity of resources, we are increasingly working on issues relating to the efficient, economic recovery of special water constituents and resources (e.g., nutrient recycling, battery recycling). In addition, we are also researching solutions for the removal of persistent micropollutants, such as pharmaceutical and chemical residues, which are present in very low concentrations (µg to ng per liter) but accumulate in aquatic cycles and thus damage them. With our process know-how and our competencies in material and component development, we have already been able to successfully handle promising joint projects.


Services offered

Consulting and process development to solve your water treatment challenges

  • Situation, system and requirements analysis, metrologically supported by laboratory and special analytics
  • Concept development for system solutions for the demand-oriented and economic treatment of wastewater and process water, their recycling and/or recovery of valuable materials
  • Laboratory investigations and test series on a suitable scale (from "proof of principle" to pilot scale)
  • Creation of process chains using conventional water treatment processes as well as novel technologies
  • Feasibility studies for the integration of technologies into already existing process chains
  • Design of separation processes from solids separation to the elimination of micropollutants
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Evaluation of mixing processes using process tomography to increase the efficiency of biogas reactors and sewage treatment plants.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Determination of bubble size distributions in bubble column reactors for optimization of chemical or biological reaction processes.

Another focus of the working group is reactor optimization and the evaluation of mixing processes. Here, we combine tools such as process tomography (ERT) and numerical flow simulation with special measurement technology for visualization and quantification as well as analytics of highly concentrated, non-Newtonian and opaque multiphase systems. The application of specially developed criteria for scale transfer enables practical solutions for different plant sizes. The recording of granulometric and rheological parameters and the condition assessment form the basis for further process optimization.

Especially for media from biogas plants, we can thus experimentally evaluate the mixing process and increase the efficiency of the biogas reactors. Gas-fluid reactions in bubble column reactors can also be extensively analyzed using process tomography. The evaluation of hydrodynamic processes and mass transport allow for process and energy optimization. Based on the gas bubble distribution in the reactor, we were able, for example, to specifically influence chemical reaction sequences. We were awarded the Saxon Environmental Prize in 2008 and the German Agriculture Innovation Prize in 2012 and 2016 for our development work.


Services offered

  • Process engineering and energetic evaluation of mixing processes on pilot-plant and pilot scale
  • Optimization of industrially and practically relevant multiphase flows in a wide variety of process engineering equipment
  • Scale transfer according to large-scale process parameters
  • Comparison and development of different reactor and mixing systems
  • Determination of bubble size distributions and bubble rise velocity in bubble column reactors
  • Investigation of flow conditions
  • Determination of mass transfer coefficients and specific exchange areas
  • Characterization of highly concentrated fibrous materials

Current research

Nutrient recycling based on extraction with ceramic membrane contactors

Current research

Characterizing the gas distribution in bubble columns

Current research

Test field for the development of industrial water treatment processes

Current research

Multifunctional test stand for the characterization of ceramic components in water treatment

Current research

Highly active nanostructured TiO2 filtration membranes for water disinfection and elimination of trace substances


Process tomography


Publicly funded projects