Wasser 3.0 stands for responsible research and innovation in connection with education and communication.
We research and develop solutions
for society and the environment.
Wasser 3.0 is ...
strong in action.
Wasser 3.0 explores …
new possibilities of waste water treatment.
Wasser 3.0 stands for ...
About Wasser 3.0
We need individual solutions for our water purification. Only innovative and cooperative research provides the basis for a sustainable improvement of water quality!
Wasser 3.0 has been researching solutions for the removal of microplastics and micro-pollutants from our waters since 2012. We explain why we do what we do in the context of educational projects, public lectures and scientific publications.
We meet complex challenges with versatile competences, from different perspectives and on several levels - for sustainable developments in our society and environment.
This is us
For us, Wasser 3.0 means combining technical expertise, a drive for innovation and idealism with a clear attitude towards responsible research. We think with passion, act with inspiration and break new ground together. For us, too, the motto is: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts".
Dr. Katrin Schuhen
Research & Development
Innovation & Transfer
Chief of Mission
Wasser 3.0 - Frequently Asked Questions
For example, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) defines plastic particles from a size of 0.1 micrometres to five millimetres as microplastics. Current reports in the mass media have anchored the public's view of the size "smaller than five millimetres" in people's minds.
Today, far more than 200 different types of plastics are known, which, however, can be completely different in their properties within the types of a class. For example polyethylene (PE). With PE, polymer chemists distinguish between the following types: LLDPE, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, HMWPE, and UMHWPE. All of them have different properties, are produced in different processes and have different areas of application.
When we talk about microplastics, we are talking about types of plastics, their production, processing and conversion processes. All of a sudden, an unbelievably large number of different products/particles are in question.
Some of these microplastic particles already enter the environmental cycle during the manufacture of products containing plastic or made of plastic. This form is known as primary microplastics. However, the largest proportion of microplastic particles is produced by physical-chemical processes in the environment itself, e.g. solar radiation, fragmentation by wind or storm or under the influence of water. A considerable proportion of this is caused by abrasion of e.g. car tires, bitumen in asphalt, shoe soles or the washing of textiles containing plastics. Microplastics are also released into the environment during waste disposal itself or through breezes blowing on sports fields and playgrounds with plastic coverings and thus into water bodies or our wastewater. This form is called secondary microplastics.
A recent study by Fraunhofer Umsicht estimates total emissions of microplastics in Germany at around 330,000 tons per year, divided between 60-70% microplastics produced during the use phase, 5-10% intentionally used microplastics and 25-30% macroplastics (waste).
Plastics are not natural products, but artificially produced materials. They are mainly extracted from natural gas, crude oil or coal and in most cases are not or only very slowly naturally degradable. In processing products, many plastics are sometimes supplemented with toxic additives such as UV stabilizers containing heavy metals, substances containing bisphenols or plasticizers, just to name a few. Plasticizers, for example, are now regarded as substances of very high concern because they have been shown to have a harmful effect on the endocrine system and can endanger fertility. All these auxiliary substances and additives are released during use and through improper disposal. These processes can take place both in the environment and in the human body, as a recent study by the Federal Environment Agency and the Robert Koch Institute showed.
On the basis of Dr. Katrin Schuhen´s chemical background, in particular polymer science, combined with intensive research in the field of organic and ecological chemistry, she developed a concept with her PhD student Adrian Herbort, which was further developed over three years into the "Wasser 3.0 PE-X" process.
At the start, there was kind of "wish list", a collection of ideas, which clearly formulated the objective from the beginning of the work: The procedure should be suitable for everyday use, practice-oriented, cost-effective, efficient, stable in continuous operation and, above all, applicable everywhere in the world. As the icing on the cake, we wanted to remove microplastics from the surfaces and not via the sediment.
Our overriding goal was to use an innovative approach to solve the increasing global problem of microplastic contamination in our water and thus in our food.
This concept for the sustainable removal of micro- and nanoplastics is based on a three-step synthesis: the identification of particles through a water analysis before each cleaning process, the triggering of particle growth through the addition of chemical substances that are not harmful to the environment or health, and finally the filtering out or skimming off of the resulting aggregates. At the end of the (waste) water purification process, there is microplastic-free water.
In summary: We turn many small microplastic particles into a few larger aggregates in one material technology step, which float on the surface and can be easily removed.
Our Wasser 3.0 solutions – like our water bodies – do not stop at borders, but are ideally suited for international use. The process we have developed makes it possible for the first time to efficiently remove microplastics and other micro pollutants. It is scalable, adaptable regardless of location or country, and can also be combined to prevent the pollution of microplastics and dissolved micro pollutants in the ecosystems of this world. Any freshwater and saltwater environment can benefit sustainably from our process. We develop solutions for the global market.
We assemble our entire technology in mobile containers, which are easy to install, do not take up a lot of space, the electricity costs are kept to a minimum and the client only needs to provide a supply line and water drainage. Compared to other processes, the entire process is low-maintenance, the operating costs depend on the degree of contamination of the water, and the acquisition costs are manageable.
The result at the end of the entire process is clean water, secondary recycling of the waste products and protection of the sewage sludge against contamination by microplastics, which also has a positive effect on the overall costs.
In addition, and this is an aspect that should not be neglected, microplastics within the wastewater treatment plant do not sink completely into the basins, or only behave one-dimensionally. Microplastics are a mixture of many different components, some plastics sink into the sludge, and others float or remain in suspension and are not removed within the treatment stages, which leads to final clarification. Again, there is no 100% guarantee that the particles will not enter the receiving waters and then be flushed back into the ecosystem.
What we are aiming for with Wasser 3.0 with the addition of microplastic removal is that we protect the sewage sludge and at the same time upgrade it. Because we can also remove other pollutant loads upstream and thus offer a platform for a sustainable use of the sewage sludge.
We want to close material cycles and not obstruct opportunities through one-way street actionism. Cradle-to-cradle instead of cradle-to-grave.