The heat flux immediately reflects metabolic changes, is measurable online and non-invasively. Calorimetry is nowadays much more sensitive than other online monitoring tools. Furthermore, the comparison of the measured reaction heat with the enthalpy balance may reveal unexpected side reactions

  • to quantify metabolic changes during microbial adaptation to hostile environments,
  • to obtain quantitative insights into the fate of contaminants,
  • to characterize mixed substrate utilization (e.g. under oligotroph conditions)
  • characterize the metabolic performance of high diverse microbiota in soil or sludge, and
  • to optimize biotechnological processes.

Despite its potential calorimetry is rather seldomly used in environmental biotechnology due to

  • the high price of calorimeters,
  • their low flexibility for integrating them into technical processes, and
  • the unsuitability for high-throughput measurements.

Our group in tight cooperation with other groups worldwide tries to overcome this situation by

  • developing calorimetric techniques for whole heat balanced bioreactors at bench as well as technical scales (Megacalorimetry),
  • validating and advancing miniaturized calorimeters for monitoring both cell suspensions and periphyton (Chip calorimetry), and
  • by contributing to the basics for high-throughput calorimetry (Enthalpy arrays).