“Knowledge creates” Wasser 3.0

Wasser 3.0 – Removal of undesirable substances from the water

Water is the most important resource in the world. However, even though water covers about 70 percent of the earth’s surface only about 0.007 percent of the earthly supplies of water are directly available to mankind. Especially pharmaceuticals play a role here that cannot be neglected.

Their active agents and decomposition products are secreted by mankind and animals and reach the hydrological cycle via the sewage. In addition to this, expired medicines are disposed of via the toilet. At present, the waste water purification plants are not designed for the removal of these substances or they have long since reached the limit of their capacity. Therefore, new concepts that clean the water also from these substances, and hence improve the water quality decisively, are necessary.

What is Wasser 3.0?

With Wasser 3.0 StressFix emerged the first efficient process to remove pharmaceuticals from the waste water. However, Wasser 3.0 deals with more than just the removal of pharmaceuticals.

Due to the continuous development of the hybrid silica gels, it is now possible to synthesize suitable organic materials (eg. pharmaceuticals, pesticides), inorganic (eg. lead, cadmium, mercury) and organic solvents, irrespective of the type and quantity of undesirable substances so-called inert (eg. microplastics), decentralized (at the site of formation) or centrally (in sewage treatment plants).

Good idea meets good chemistry
abcr GmbH – Gute Chemie

A revolutionary idea and a strong partner: Wasser 3.0 came into being from the close cooperation between Assistant Professor Dr. Katrin Schuhen/University Koblenz-Landau and the special chemistry expert abcr. As a specialist for R&D and scale-up, the company abcr accompanied the project from the very beginning.

abcr supports the further development of the innovative product from the laboratory concept to the use in the industrial standard.

  • R&D Service: Client syntheses, abcr product line
    Made in Germany, abcr lab Bremen
  • Production: Syntheses and scale-up on a scale of tons
    Made in Europe, abcr labs Spain
  • Bulk Business: Procurement, scale-up and distribution of raw materials
  • Catalog Business: ++100,000 special chemicals & exclusive product portfolio
  • Service: Sourcing and distribution worldwide, depot and logistics expert, international hazmat dispatch
Wasser 3.0 solution: Hybrid silica gels
Gute Chemie – from the laboratory concept to the use in the industrial standard. (Photo: abcr)

The secret of Wasser 3.0 are the innovative hybrid silica gels from the production facilities of abcr.

With their porous surfaces these tailor-made materials can absorb quantities of trace substances, convert them chemically and thus fix them securely. The new compound can be reused via a recycling concept so that a positive environmental performance evaluation results without the development of toxic substances. Binding unwanted trace substances with innovative hybrid materials in order to improve the water quality in all stretches of water in a long-term view – this goal has been fixed from the start.

StressFix and AdFix

The modular hybrid materials consist of an inorganic and an organic part and can be used as a singular solution (StressFix) or as a combination (AdFix) of different hybrid components (fix) and activated carbon (Ad).

Synthetically, the hybrid silica gels are linked to one another via siloxane bonds. The inorganic part consists of one to three siloxy functions and serves as the carrier material for the organic part. The pore size as well as the position and shape of the lattice structure are determined via the organic part, and an adaptation to various active substances and active ingredient groupings takes place. This region of the hybrid material has the ability to function as covalent bonds as coupling partners for the stressors. The hybrid silica gels used are produced by different methods within the so-called sol-gel process. A three-dimensional network is formed by hydrolysis and condensation. The resulting structured hybrid material is capable of irreversibly fixing the organic residues in the aquatic environment by a chemical reaction in the aqueous medium at different pH effects.

ESEM images of different hybrid silica gels (scales: left 30μm, right 10μm)
ESEM images of different hybrid silica gels (scales: left 30μm, right 10μm)
Wasser 3.0 – Concept and how it works

Wasser 3.0 is based on a material science approach to the solution of variable pollution problems. Variable means here that the composition of the soiling parameters and thus the concentration of the trace substances in the water can change. It is the first process that provides modular, adaptable hybrid silica gels as fixation materials for stressors for sewage treatment and drinking water treatment (s. figure). For Wasser 3.0, the functional groups of the stressor molecules and their reactivity against inorganic-organic-structured materials are the main focus. This principle is described with function design.

How Wasser 3.0 works
How Wasser 3.0 works

The functional design is based on the analysis of the structural information of the individual molecules and / or classes of substances, which as stressors can reach the aquatic environment via various input points. In the foreground of the precise syntheses of the hybrid silica gels, the incorporation of functional groups into the organic subunit is capable of irreversibly initiating organic chemical reactions. These can also be induced by a change in the reaction regime (pH, temperature, light). In the field of heavy metal fixation, a complexing reaction also comes into focus. This complexing can also be supported by stressors that act as stabilizing chelate ligands, resulting in a complexation of heavy metals with a simultaneous reduction of stressor concentration. The removal reaction is induced by the reactivity of the functional groups on stressor and hybrid silica gel.

Assistant Professor Dr. Katrin Schuhen

Katrin Schuhen

Since 2012 Jun.-Prof. Dr. Katrin Schuhen has been researching together with her working group at the Institute for Environmental Sciences of the University of Koblenz-Landau. The focus of their research is the development of innovative materials that completely remove residuals from wastewater (water) and drinking water. The focus is on hybrid silica gels, which with their organic and inorganic units are the ideal reaction partners for a wide variety of substances.



Since 2012
Juniorprofessor for Organic and Ecological Chemistry at the University of Koblenz-Landau

Laboratory Manager, Basell Polyolefine Deutschland GmbH, Catalyst Systems Division

Co-worker Aesculap AG, Department of Biomaterials

With the Wasser 3.0 project she has come a step closer to her goal of improving water quality – sustainably and globally.