Projects - Projects - Projects: How it all started ...

In 2012, the Junior Professor for Organic and Ecological Chemistry, Dr. Katrin Schuhen, started her scientific work after completing her doctoral thesis in 2007 after spending several years in the private sector. Since then, numerous research projects have investigated innovative solutions for detecting and removing micropollutants and microplastics in and from the waters.

In short - what is it about?

Water is the most important resource in the world. But, although almost 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, only about 0.007 percent is directly available to humans.

Especially micropollutants and microplastics, including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, heavy metals and much more burden the water cycle and us humans more and more.

Not only are the wastewater treatment plants currently not designed for the removal of these substances or have long since reached the limit of their performance, but the environment is also showing more and more negative effects from the increasing pollutant loads.

This is exactly where Wasser 3.0 comes in with new concepts, projects and responsible, goal-oriented solution research in order to learn more about the micropollutants and their behavior and to develop solutions to remove the micropollutants from the water.

We not only focus on application-oriented research and root cause research, but also on education. With our educational and communication work we want to support a sensible avoidance strategy and thereby protect the environment sustainably.

Ongoing projects and new ideas

We conduct research on the topics: water, water purification, microplastics and micropollutants, protection of the vital resource water, circular economy and digitization


Some projects have been and are already being implemented with partners from science and business. However, we are always looking for new approaches and impulses. And we also have a lot of ideas that we think are promising.

Our focus is on continuously expanding our network.

In the interests of our environment, we rely on solution-oriented dialogue and mutual learning between different disciplines, partners and stakeholders.

Regardless of whether we start projects in the areas of research or education, transparent communication is always a central aspect of our work (publications). We love research. We love communication. We want to break new ground together with other critical thinkers and committed actors.

Become a part of Wasser 3.0 as a project partner, sponsor or support us with your donations.

Removal of microplastics from wastewater

Since 2015, we have been researching the

removal of microplastic from wastewater as part of the Wasser 3.0 - PE-X® project at Wasser 3.0

. In the course of the previous work, we were able to transfer a concept that had not previously been discussed in science into application and describe a new method (publications).

Using agglomeration fixation, we succeeded in localizing microplastics regardless of density, size and concentration in a two-step process, firstly and secondly to clump them together. After the reaction, our agglomerates were found on the water surface.

We are currently intensively researching the chemistry behind the processes in order to be able to make even better predictions about removal rates and to further improve the accuracy of the fit of our solutions.

We are also researching a better understanding of the processes and analyzing the behavior of microplastics in different waters. Are you interested in research projects on microplastics?
We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Additional project partners wanted: Removal of microplastics from seawater

Since 2018, we have been researching the removal of microplastics from seawater.

Main research areas include seawater desalination plants, in which freshwater is produced from seawater, which can then be used as drinking water and for agricultural use, or sea salt extraction.

Our research has so far successfully shown that it is possible to remove microplastics from salt water using inorganic-organic hybrid silica gel combinations in order to prevent the proliferation of microplastics in other uses


We are currently intensively researching, among other things, the influence of different internal and external factors on the entire microplastic removal process, as well as the use of our material-technology combination in different environments, e.g. in zones near the shore, harbor basin.

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Additional project partners wanted: Removal of microplastics from sewage sludge (industrial, municipal)

Partners wanted!

It is not only the oceans that are the recipients of microplastics. Wastewater treatment plants also receive large amounts of microplastics from households, industry and surface water, which can accumulate in the sewage sludge used as fertilizer for agriculture and horticulture.

According to a study by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants continues to be used as an addition to traditional fertilizers on agricultural land.

The load is estimated at approx. 110,000 - 730,000 t per year. This means that microparticles can reach humans not only via marine animals, but also from foods that come from agriculture (Nizzetto et al. 2016).

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Project partners wanted: Detection of microplastics in different environmental compartments

Partners wanted!

Everyone can see microplastic when it is there, but so far there is no standard or regulation in the field of microplastic analysis that describes a method that demonstrably enables the detection of microplastics in all environmental compartments.

The fact that we still don't have the right method at hand is because we have a multi-plastic mixture with microplastics. It is not just polyethylene, polyamide or polyester, but there are many polyethylenes, many polyamides and many polyesters. It is estimated that there are around 2000 different polyethylenes from LDPE, MDPE, HDPE, UHMWPE or LLDPE and an unbelievable number of processing types and therefore different compositions.

In summary: a complex microplastic matrix that is not so easy to detect with a single polymer analysis that is already known. Added to this are the problems (reproducibility in sampling, processing and measurement) that arise when working in environmental systems and not in closed production facilities. In the near future, we need a method for the continuous detection of microplastics. This is exactly where we want to start our research and expand existing knowledge with new insights.

For precisely this reason, we are looking for device manufacturers or analytical laboratories that provide their devices for referencing (e.g. Raman spectroscopy, pyrolysis GC-MS) and / or research groups or industrial partners who join the project as creative, innovative developers to carry out, advance and shape the research.

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Project partners wanted: Use of wastewater as a resource

Partners wanted!

Despite numerous possibilities, the transition from sewage systems from a single focus on the removal pollutants to a focus on resource recovery is not easy to implement.

This is due in part to the fact that emerging concepts and methods are part of a complex integrated system that is designed to provide broader benefits, including water reuse, nutrient recycling and energy generation, while existing infrastructure paradigms have not been developed for these diverse purposes.

In addition, wastewater service systems often operate in isolation, relying only on technology to solve problems, and less often taking into account factors and influences that go beyond traditional technology.

Currently, the huge increase in urbanization and economic activity has forced urban areas to improve their wastewater services.

Since many elements of the wastewater infrastructure have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years or even longer, the decisions made today have long-term effects and must, therefore, be based on future rather than current or past scenarios.

To realize the potential for improved sustainability,

the industry needs to fundamentally change its approaches and assumptions about wastewater management, including the creation of much needed new wastewater systems.

Many research projects, including Wasser 3.0, are already dealing more or less efficiently with a new, refined approach to integrating several options for reusing pollutants from used water. Our approach - to see wastewater as a resource - has three goals:

1) Reuse of water-soluble or natural organic material (including organic substances, nitrogen and phosphorus) to enable pollution control, resource collection and product recycling;

2) Application of a sustainability philosophy as a replacement for the traditional construction method, which only focuses on the technical aspect of system design;

3) Consideration of ecosystems to use the capabilities of natural systems at the system level.

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Project partners wanted: Behavior of microplastics in the environment

Partners wanted!

In this project, we would like to bring together an international, interdisciplinary network of different actors and scientific disciplines in order to bundle the knowledge in a cooperative exchange.

We are looking for researchers and industrial partners who can bring their expertise in the field of microplastics from the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, environmental sciences, ecotoxicology and environmental technicians into the network.

The aim is to sift through scientific data, collect the data, evaluate it in order to make a statement about how the behavior of microplastics in various environmental compartments (areas: air, soil, water) can be described. The basis of this work culminates in activities from the network, for participation in standardization committees and / or research communities in certain research areas. We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Project partners wanted: Education and transparent communication

Partners wanted!

In the area of education and communication, we rely on transparency, openness and clarity. In our digital formats (bookED and NUT-Caching), we want to get more people excited about natural and environmental sciences. You can enlist us as speakers for the transmission of new ideas, concepts and the courage for change.

In addition, we would like to enrich school lessons with new impulses with our educational materials.

We are looking for sponsors and partners for this project.

Partners wanted!

Do you have an idea and are you still looking for the right project partners for your research and education projects or do you want to become a sponsor or donor?

Just send us an e-mail.

After a project is before a new project...

In this area you will find projects whose funding has expired, but which continue to occupy us (publications).
The knowledge and experience gained in it provide us with a variety of starting points for new projects.

Do you see interesting opportunities to further develop your own activities together with us?
Do you have ideas for cooperative research and education projects?

Please send us a short e-mail and tell us more about it. We are looking forward to the exchange!

Development of a process for removing pharmaceuticals and heavy metals using innovative hybrid silica gels

Modularly adaptable hybrid silica gels as fixation materials for stressors were investigated for wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment.

StressFix focuses on the functional groups of the stressor molecules and their reactivity towards inorganic-organic structured materials. We have described this principle with functional design. In the area of heavy metal fixation, we also developed complexation reactions, which are also described under the concept of chelation.
With both concepts, we take advantage of the possibility of inserting chemical modifications in the organic part of our hybrid silica gels in order to be able to react to different types and concentrations of anthropogenic stress due to micro-pollutants.

Development of an inorganic-organic building block for the fixation of per- and polyfluorinated hydrocarbons from leachate and groundwater

Per- and polyfluorinated hydrocarbons (PFC) are synthetically produced, long-lasting organic chemicals. They are manmade and do not occur naturally in the environment. PFC can also be found in numerous useful items that repel dirt, color, grease, oil and water. They are used, for example, for the impregnation of products or in extinguishing foams.

Due to the improper application of waste mixtures and sewage sludge to the soil, the PFC get into the water cycle and could be detected in the soil and groundwater in many places.

Despite the ban on some PFCs, including perfluorooctanoic acid in the EU, large quantities still get into the water cycle. Adsorption technologies such as the use of activated carbon is suitable to bind long-chain PFC. However, short-chain PFCs also appear in water. These are more difficult to bind and often pass through the activated carbon filter, despite the fact that it still has a capacity. In the RE-Fluor-X project, we researched new combination materials for removing PFC until 2018.

Development of a new procedure and a new method for determining the concentrations of per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFC) in water

Dissolved organic chemical compounds are usually analyzed using gas and / or liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS, LC-MS).

Due to the often low concentrations in the water, it is necessary to carry out a sensible sample preparation before the analysis. In addition to filtration and extraction, the derivatization and enrichment of the sample are also important sample preparation steps.

In this project, different methods were compared and the limiting factors were worked out and a new method was researched in order to establish cost-effective methods for water analysis.

In a continuing project, a new derivatization method for PFC in water was also worked out. The results have been published here.

bookED - the electronic textbook focus on knowledge creates the future

Carried out with the support of the Joachim Herz Stiftung.
Independent experimentation, the use of explanatory animations and the installation of digital media, especially for schoolchildren, come to the fore among the new, diverse possibilities of making teaching and learning in the natural and environmental sciences exciting and vivid.

By creating an explorative, subject-related, location and time-independent teaching / learning environment, we would like to use bookED to transfer teaching and learning into a "new" learning environment. In doing so, we want to increase the interest of the user in the subjects, which are often perceived as complex and difficult, and make our contribution to making difficult subjects more accessible.

This project was supported as a university project from 2015 to 2017 by the "Perlenfonds" of the Joachim Herz Foundation.

NUT Caching: Interactive learning experiences for at home and on site at the wastewater treatment plant

Carried out with the support of the Sparkassen Stiftung Südliche Weinstraße.
NUT Caching describes a new form of interdisciplinary knowledge transfer that combines the learning subjects of natural sciences, environmental sciences and technology. In our lighthouse project on the topic of wastewater treatment, at Wasser 3.0 we have put together interactive content and course processes that are made available to a broad audience for the holistic on-site teaching / learning experience together with Entsorgungs- und Wirtschaftsbetriebe Landau (EWL).

The innovative core of the project lies in the interdisciplinarity, in the transfer of knowledge and new implementation strategy. At an extracurricular / non-university, at the same time also non-everyday knowledge transfer center, the overarching topic "Provision of clean water" is interactively sensitized / taught in a playful manner and made available to a diverse, heterogeneous group. By opening the sewage plant's gates, the importance of the topic is made accessible and usable to a wide audience. For more information, follow the link.