News


May 2018

At the former benzene factory in Zeitz, Photo: Karen Görner, UFZ At the former benzene factory in Zeitz, Photo: Karen Görner, UFZ On the 3rd of May 2018, 25 participants from industry, academia and public administration gathered at the chemical and industrial park of Zeitz in the frame of the 5th business talk of the Cluster Team Environment (NEU e.V.), in order to discuss current process developments and best practice in soil and groundwater remediation.

Two presentations were complemented by numerous questions and intensive discussions and followed by a field trip: the LAF Saxony-Anhalt and the MDVV demonstrated ongoing remediation work at the former benzene factory, as part of the major ecological project Zeitz.

The programme was completed by ample opportunities for informal exchange of experiences and project ideas and for making new contacts.

The next business talk of Cluster Team Environment will take place in September and November 2018, respectively. Topics that have been put forward for these events so far are “hydrogen as contribution to the Energiewende” and “patent strategies for technology-driven businesses”.

As a working group of the city of Leipzig’s Network Energy and Environment (NEU e.V.), the Cluster Team Environment focusses on companies in the field of environmental technologies which are or wish to become active in Leipzig and the region. The cluster team is led by UFZ and aims to connect the abovementioned companies and to promote exchange with academia and local authorities.

In case of any questions or interest in future cluster team events, please contact Karen Görner ( karen.goerner@ufz.de ), Department Knowledge and Technology Transfer (UFZ).

The second phase of the project BioFAVOR (with the objective testing its feasibility) began on 1.4.2018. The project is funded by the BMBF within the framework of the competition "New Products for the Bioeconomy". The feasibility phase follows the successful 9-month exploratory phase, wherein conceptual development and evaluation were in focus. The aim of the project is to create a technical and economical solution for a direct and decentral disposal of human faeces and its simultaneous utilisation within a bio-based economy. Project Manager Dipl.-Ing. Tobias Hübner (Department of Environmental Microbiology) intends to demonstrate together with the DBFZ and the Institute for Social Ecological Research (ISOE) the technical feasibility of a novel, easily scalable and mobile low-tech process for the utilisation of faecal matter.

The recycling potential of human faeces have till date been underestimated. Presently, human faeces are being disposed of with a relatively high use of energy and drinking water. In industrialised countries such as Germany, the cost of disposal is very high when there is no or only an insufficient connection to a central sewage network as well as when faeces are collected temporarily and in widely varying amounts (e.g. at festivals, campsites and major construction sites). The extraction of usable resources from these decentralised and strongly fluctuating sources is particularly promising from an ecological as well as an economic perspective.

For further information please contact Mr. Tobias Hübner: tobias.huebner@ufz.de

April 2018

Pilot plant V-EcoTech-Filter , Photo: UFZ Pilot plant V-EcoTech-Filter , Photo: UFZ Following positive pilot, construction at Kupferhammer site is set to be finalised by 2018 already

The UFZ’s V-EcoTech-Filter is proving something of a sales hit. After a series of successful pilots and two commercial plants in Leuna, a third large-scale plant will now be built at Kupferhammer to remove phenols and BTEX from the groundwater. The site saw several test runs and ensuing adaptation work between January 2016 and March 2017, which now form the basis of the new plant. The site owner, the LMBV, has already invited tenders, and hopes to see contraction works finished by the end of this year.

The V-EcoTech-Filter is a semi-natural soil filter system for groundwater remediation. It consists of one or several vertical coarse filters and a downstream fine filter.

For questions on the V-EcoTech-Filter, please contact Dr. Manfred van Afferden (Department Environmental and Biotechnology Centre, manfred.afferden@ufz.de ).

Participants of the meeting, Photo UFZ Participants of the meeting, Photo UFZ A delegation of the Foreign Office, led by Ambassador a.D. Herrmann Sausen and programme director "Training of International Diplomats" Stefan Biedermann, visited the UFZ on the 12th of April 2018 for an update of the German research landscape in general and the integrated environmental research and the transfer of its results into politics and society in particular. The visit was part of the "9th International Diplomats Programme".

The programme, which was attended by stakeholders from the Departments of Press and Public Relations Department, of Knowledge and Technology Transfer and of the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology, included a tour of the Science Park with historical facts and an introduction to the UFZ at lofty heights, an insight into the UFZ as part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the major issues that are dealt with in the thematic areas of the UFZ, as well as the different formats in knowledge and technology transfer. Two concrete projects on integrated wastewater management in arid regions showed how, in the first example, different measures intermesh and how a directive on decentralised wastewater management was developed and adopted in close cooperation with Jordanian decision-makers and ministries. In the second example, a tool for costing various wastewater management scenarios was presented. The tool uses geographic information system data to allow long-term analyses.

The 16 international diplomats work for their home countries in Berlin embassies. Gaining a comprehensive picture of the political, scientific, economic and civic structures in Germany is part of their initial training.

If you would like to know more about this event, feel free to contact Dr. Joachim Nöller of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Department.

Further information can be found on: https://diplomatictraining.alumniportal.com/

March 2018

First device test in the Gondwanaland of the zoo Leipzig (May 2017) / Photo: UFZ First device test in the Gondwanaland of the zoo Leipzig (May 2017) / Photo: UFZ Robust autosampler in demand for diverse applications in water research

Following a successful pilot in Oman, there have been new developments concerning the autosampler which was developed in cooperation with TU Darmstadt and built at UFZ. As mentioned here last year, six autosamplers were installed in the semi-arid cloud forests of the Dhofar mountains and one in the extremely dry Rub al-Khali in June 2017 in order to investigate how much groundwater leaks into the Arabian Sea, which precipitation events are relevant for groundwater renewal and which areas water leaks into. This information is based on the analysis of stable isotopes in the water.

The field trials ended in December 2017, and the team around Dr. Jan Friesen, UFZ, is currently adapting the autosampler’s structural design in order to make the plans available to the scientific community. The device has generated interest not just with respect to research in remote areas, but also close to home: several autosamplers will soon be used to monitor the water balance of green roofs and, in the frame of the major project MOSES (Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems), in the area of river ecology.

Please contact Dr. Jan Friesen ( jan.friesen@ufz.de ) for further information.

Masonry drying; source: UFZ/HTWK Masonry drying; source: UFZ/HTWK Radio wave technology is a new concept for direct heating of a wide range of materials. The process can be used in construction, for example for drying or decontamination of masonry, for chemical-free wood preservation and for the conditioning of fresh concrete. In comparison to conventional heating methods, it is characterised by a targeted and uniform heating with high penetration depths. Harmful substances such as fuel oil residues, solvents or wood preservatives can thus be removed in a controlled and rapid manner.

Since 2014, the basic technology is being studied in the frame of the BMWi-funded ZIM network "RWTec" (ZIM: Central Innovation Program for SMEs), coordinated by the UFZ and with the aim to develop operational processes and products which will then be introduced to the market by the network’s industry partners.

The innovative strength of the researchers is also reflected in a high number of inventions. Two patents have recently been issued: a European patent for drying and decontamination of masonry, concrete, wood and other solids (EP 2 354 349), and a German patent for a method and apparatus for non-invasive dielectric heating by means of capacitive coupling (DE 10 2016 107 547), which was developed in close cooperation with the College of Business, Technology and Culture (HTWK).

For questions or further information about the technology, please contact Dr. Ulf Roland and Dr. Ulf Trommler (Department of Environmental Engineering, ulf.roland@ufz.de and ulf.trommler@ufz.de ).

February 2018

Graphic: UFZ Graphic: UFZ Effective water resource management and adaptation to the climate change can only be successfully developed, if key variables of the water circle (for example drainage flow and soil moist) are simulated correctly on the different planning levels (such as local, regional, national and continental).

The research group of Dr. Luis E. Samaniego-Eguiguren from the Department of Computational Hydrosystems developed the hydrological model mHM. It has a state of the art multiscale parameterization and allows a seamless and effective usage throughout multiple planning levels and data-sparse regions. Therefor the model can be used for scientific purposes and support political decision making processes.
As part of a comparative study, which was conducted by a scientific group in coordination with the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, 9 of the worldwide best known hydrological models were tested (Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Inter-comparison Project, ISI-MIP2). The study proved that the mHM Model is one of the two best models (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1841-8). In practical application the model provides for example the basis in Germany of today’s drought watch at the UFZ (www.ufz.de/droughtmonitor/). It is currently used by over 200 users from approximately 35 countries.

A new version has now been released in December 2017. The model can be downloaded from the following link: www.ufz.de/mhm.

Please contact Dr. Luis Samaniego-Eguiguren (luis.samaniego@ufz.de) for further information.

Groundwater monitoring point, Photo: UFZ Groundwater monitoring point in the HCH (hexachlorocyclohexanes) contaminated flood zone of Mulde, Germany. Photo: UFZ archive
Lindane belongs to a group of chemicals known as HCHs (hexachlorocyclohexanes) and was used as an insecticide in Germany for many years. In 2003 the use of Lindane in agriculture was banned throughout the EU due to its strongly toxic effect and its long-term persistence. However, in some areas soil and groundwater are still heavily contaminated with this substance. To implement efficient environmental management, it is important to know whether the pollutant is being degraded and how quickly. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) have now developed a method that makes it possible to quantify the biodegradation of Lindane and estimate the length of time required for the chemical to safely decompose. The study appears in the current edition of the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

The UFZ researchers’ innovative approach is to combine two detection methods: isotope and enantiomeric fractionation. In laboratory tests, they developed a model that allows the degree of degradation to be measured using specimens taken from the environment. The method makes it possible to measure the biodegradation of the substance when it is transported in water or with soil particles. This will allow scientists to work out how long the HCHs can be expected to be present in the environment.

The research was supported by data and sampling assistance from Ökologisches Großprojekt Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Landesanstalt für Altlastenfreistellung Sachsen-Anhalt and Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen GmbH.

Publication:
Yaqing Liu, Safdar Bashir, Reiner Stollberg, Ralf Trabitzsch, Holger Weiß, Heidrun Paschke, Ivonne Nijenhuis, Hans-Hermann Richnow (2017). "Compound Specific and Enantioselective Stable Isotope Analysis as Tools to Monitor Transformation of Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) in a Complex Aquifer System". Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (16), pp 8909-8916 http://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.6b05632

January 2018

Grafik: UFZ In 2017 the awards for outstanding achievements by UFZ employees were presented for the fourth time already – for example in Research, Knowledge and Technology Transfer.

Altogether there were 80 proposals for 41 potential awardees and seven teams submitted – as many as never before. The seven jury’s chose the winners in partial extensive discussions and decision-making processes. The following prizes were award amongst other in the course of the 53th meeting of the supervisory board:

Dr. Matthias Gehre (Department Isotope Biogeochemistry) awarded with the UFZ Technology Transfer Award for development, patent-registration and marketing of a new method to take measurements from hydrogen isotope.

Dr. Heidi Wittmer (Department Environmental Politics) decorated with the UFZ Knowledge Transfer Award for initiation and assistance eco-political processes in developing countries; they enable a sustainable development and protection of the ecological systems in these countries.

The UFZ Research Award goes to – a very large – Team of the Department Computational Hydrosystems for the development of the mesoscale Hydrologic Model mHM and his application, for example the “German Drought Monitor”.

Photo: UFZ Photo: UFZ On 28th January was end the 83. International Green Week in Berlin. The worldwide largest trade fair of the food, agriculture and gardening industries are very popular with experts and consumers. In 2018 again visited approximated 400.000 guests this annual exhibition.

At the „AdventureFarm“, one subarea of the fair, was also participate soils-researcher from the BonaRes-Centre (www.bonares.de) and representatives of the „Aktionsplattform Bodenschutz“ (http://www.bvboden.de/links/aktionsplattform-bodenschutz) this year.
With a collective stand they introduced for issue „What our soils manage”. To interpreted soil as our live resources were exhibite an interactive display about soils, boxes to feel types of soils as well as inform about the funding initiative BonaRes.

“Intact soils have the same status for human und environment as climate, clean water and biodiversity” was the most important message for every guest, if an elementary school student, a farmer or a policy-maker.
Therefore Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Vogel (Helmoltz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ) and Prof. Dr. Georg Guggenberger (German Soil Science Society - DBG) treaded the board of the „AdventureFarm“ to reply questions around soils to increased awareness of our soils as a live resource.

A consistently positive feedback got the decision to give the topic soil at the Green Week more space this year. Especially pleasant was both farmers and representatives of politics and economy have reviewed BonaRes as a worthwhile and an important funding initiative.
Some of the farmers now envince interest to get involved in the initiative BonaRes.

Winterschool 2017, Photo: Milina Alber, UFZ The first Winter School - Business Administration compact successfully ran from 11.12.2017 to 15.12.2017 under the motto “Learning by doing” at the UFZ. The main aim was to offer UFZ scientists an opportunity to understand the functional aspects of a business - hands on – in order to instil in them a feeling of confidence for future career perspectives, including spinning off.

The various courses during the five day event gave the participants an insight into the different aspects of business administration, thus enabling them to understand how an organisation functions. Basic economic concepts, principles of strategic management, marketing and sales as well as basic finance and tax law were covered. The course had a theoretical and a practical part in form of a business simulation, so that participants had an opportunity to put learnt theory into directly practice under the guidance of experts. Didactic elements included interactive workshops, discussions, individual and group work as well as role-plays.

Please contact Milina Alber (Department Kowledge and Technology Transfer, milina.alber@ufz.de ) for further information.