Due to the EU basic standard on radiation protection and the German Radiation Protection Act, a new monitoring obligation for indoor areas (including day-care centers, schools, etc.) and commercial areas will come into effect on January 1, 2019. The standard requires appropriate ventilation measures being initiated if the limit value exceeds 300 Bq/m³. Together with the Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG, Department of Radiation Protection) and the Dresden-based Sarad GmbH, the Department of Environmental Informatics (Prof. Dr. H. Weiß and R. Trabitzsch) at the UFZ will develop a new standard for future measuring of radon in rooms as well as ventilation concepts linked to it. The measurements will be carried out at several pilot sites in the Ore Mountains region (Erzgebirge). In the future, the Sarad GmbH and UFZ will jointly contribute with their technical and modelling expertise to determine actual radon levels in apartments, schools and workplaces for reliable onsite monitoring of radon activity and concentration. In addition to an optical and acoustic warning, electronic messages, for example to SmartHome systems or mobile phones, and/or radio-controlled ventilation technology can also be selected.
At the end of the joint project, a resource-efficient solution which complies with the legal radon reference value will be developed.
For further information please contactor .
The two UFZ environmental biotechnologists Prof. Roland Müller and Dr. Manfred van Afferden, the UFZ economist Dr. Mi-Yong Lee and Wolf-Michael Hirschfeld, initiator of the Education and Demonstration Center for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (BDZ) in Leipzig, jointly received the German Environmental Award of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU). The team shared the prize with the marine biologist Prof. Antje Boetius.
The Leipzig team of experts was honored for its achievements in Jordan, which have been a valuable contribution to overcoming water shortage in one of the most severely affected countries with a holistic and innovative approach. This has paved the way for a better future in which a large part of the Jordanian population will have access to clean drinking water and wastewater will be treated efficiently. Already in 2010, the UFZ commissioned a research and demonstration plant in Jordan, on which eleven wastewater treatment processes have been operated, further developed and adapted to regional requirements. The V-EcoTech filter, a remediation method developed and perfected by Prof. Roland Müller and Dr. Manfred van Afferden over the past ten years, has also been in use. The actively ventilated horizontal and vertical filter systems have a very good cleaning performance, operate very efficiently in terms of energy and water saving even at high outside temperatures and can also be controlled in a targeted manner, for example with regard to the removal of nitrogen or pathogenic germs. In 2017, the wastewater filter systems were included in the regulations of the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) and have defined the state of the art in Germany since then – a decisive step for the transfer of research into practical application.
In Germany, for example, the V-EcoTech filter is used to economically and ecologically remediate more than 1,000 cubic meters of groundwater per day at the Leuna site. Further pilot plants are located in the municipality of Rositz, among others.
For background information, please refer to our technology offer or contact Dr. Manfred van Afferden, Environmental and Biotechnology Centre (
The UFZ will be one of the hosts of the World Café "Potentials of cross-domain data use in cities" at SMART CITY SOLUTIONS 2018, jointly with the University of Leipzig and the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Berlin.
The main questions at this event will be “Which linking of data in cities makes sense from the perspective of sustainable urban development and what are the obstacles?”, “How can data be exploited, e.g. by means of artificial intelligence, and for what purpose?” or “Which legal framework conditions must be observed for the comprehensive use / consolidation of data. City planners, architects and experts from public administration are invited to discuss these aspects with scientists and to develop solutions. The hosts of the University of Leipzig, the HTW Berlin and the UFZ draw on their many years of experience in urban and environmental research.
Other hosts at the World Café event will be the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the Spirit Legal LLP law firm.
SMART CITY SOLUTIONS (October 16–18, 2018 in Frankfurt/Main) sees itself as a central forum, trade fair and congress for all those who want to learn more about contemporary solutions in the field of "Smart City" and successful examples and projects in urban development. The INTERGEO trade fair taking place at the same time offers visitors and exhibitors the opportunity to personally get to know international manufacturers and companies, establish contacts and jointly develop visions for new Smart City projects.
For further information, please contact Dr. Joachim Nöller, Head of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Department (
The biologist Dr. Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth used an innovative idea to solve a problem very well-known to fellow biologists in the field of monitoring. Individual animals and their tracks are often very difficult to trace in case of repeated capture. Reliable data is however essential to be able to assess the threat to certain species, study their population ecology and to identify potential areas of conflict with humans. Dogs have long been used in Germany for performing a variety of tasks, e.g. tracking missing persons, drugs or explosives. Their use in the search for rare plants or animal species and their traces is however relatively new and little known.
Together with her two trained dogs, the Australian Cattle Dog Bagheera and the Border Collie Zammy, Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth founded Monitoring Dogs (www.monitoring-dogs.de). Her core area currently is the search for the otter (Lutra lutra), more precisely, his feces. The sex of the animals, kinship relationships, hormonal status or parasite infestation can be determined with the help of traced fecal samples. Even the species population within an area can be extrapolated. The two trained dogs are not only faster and more effective in finding otter feces; they can clearly distinguish otter feces from feces of fish eating martens (the American Mink) found in the area, an impossible task for the human eye.
Monitoring Dogs has till date not only been involved in otter monitoring projects in Saxony, but is also currently conducting comprehensive otter monitoring on selected waterbodies in Bavaria, which are characterized by extensive fish farming. The Landesfischereiverband Bayern e.V. has initiated a project to investigate the interaction between fishponds, otters and other watercourses as well as the food composition of these animals, on account of the conflicting role of the endangered species in these areas. Monitoring Dogs is currently also supervising the training of two dog for otter tracing in Switzerland, where otter populations are beginning to grow once again. The firm is also involved in the tracing of species other than the otter. Initial pilot studies on lizards and newts in their natural habitats have provided promising results. Furthermore, they are involved in the search for field hamsters in Poland, as well as in a planned Citizen Science project for ragweed search in Denmark.
For further information please contact
Bubblemeter - Development of an innovative measuring device for the quantification of rising gas bubbles in water bodies
Surface waters are globally significant sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. Quantifying the release of greenhouse gases from water is important. Due to the particularly high greenhouse effect of methane, the determination of methane release is of particular significance. Methane emissions are mostly caused by ebullition and are extremely variable both in space and time.
There is only one single commercial measuring device worldwide for the continuous measurement of rising gas bubbles in water, which is quite complex and expensive. However, for a representative measurement in a reservoir, several devices are necessary.
In a co-operation with the IAUT Institute at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg the department lake research at UFZ developed a prototype of a new type of instrument. The apparatus consists of an inverted funnel, a new type of bubble detector and a special mooring. The device was verified in the laboratory and in various field tests in the Bautzen Reservoir.
This year an improved prototype has been developed and will be tested during ongoing measurements of the TregaTa project at Bautzen Reservoir. In the future, the device will also be used in large infrastructures of the UFZ such as MOSES and TERENO to better understand the spatio-temporal variability of methane emissions from surface waters.
For further information please contact Dr. Matthias Koschorreck at
Dr. Carsten Mahrenholz, CEO of the young Greifswald-based company, spoke to UFZ scientists on May 31st about his varied experience as a start-up.
The company is a spin-off from the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald and has developed a medical device, consisting of a plasma-patch and a plasma-cube that treats infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria and chronic wounds. Cold plasma not only disinfects the wound area but also activates cell regeneration.
A small circle of scientists enjoyed the privilege of talking directly to Dr. Mahrenholz. They also got first-hand practical tips on various issues of spinning off.
If you would like to know more about this or future events, please contact Milina Alber, Department of Knowledge and Technology Transfer,
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 (
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:
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,
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:
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 ( ) for further information.
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,
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 (email@example.com) for further information.
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.
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
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”.
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.
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,) for further information.