UFZ guest scientist Dr. Karolina Nowak has received the “CEFIC Long-Range Research Initiative Innovative Science Award” of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC).
The award is given annually for innovative projects in the field of chemical evaluation. It is one of the biggest awards for young scientists in Europe.
The prize-winning project of Dr. Nowak aims to label chemicals with heavy hydrogen atoms (deuterium) and to use such deuterated chemicals to evaluate their transformation and persistence in the environment. Dr. Nowak will focus on pesticides (e.g. glyphosate) and will develop methods to quantitatively monitor which fraction of a pesticide is mineralized and which fraction is retained by the soil matrix. The goal is to facilitate the evaluation of chemicals by industry and authorities.
Karolina Nowak received a Master's Degree in Environmental Management from the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland in 2004; and a PhD in Environmental Chemistry from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany in 2011. She currently holds a postdoctoral position at Technical University of Berlin (Chair of Geobiotechnology). She is also a guest scientist at the UFZ.
At the UFZ, the project is embedded into the working groups of Prof. Lorenz Adrian (ISOBIO Department) and Dr. Anja Miltner (UBT Department). Frau Nowak did her PhD research at UFZ at the Department of Environmental Biotechnology (UBT, Prof. Matthias Kästner) and now qualifies to be a university lecturer, supported by a self-proposed DFG project at the Chair of Geobiotechnology (Prof. Adrian) at the TU Berlin.
You can find more information here.
Prof. Lorenz Adrian, Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry
On November 1, 2019, another unique infrastructure at the UFZ went into operation, which has been erected in the last few months on top of building 7.1 at the UFZ site in Leipzig.
Green roofs are an important element of our urban transformation process
The world's first research green roof will enable interdisciplinary studies on the effects of green roofs in urban space and how they can best contribute to urban transformation. For this purpose, three experimental areas of approx. 80m² were created and equipped with measuring technology: i) an intensively greened area, ii) an area covered with marsh plants, which is subject to intensive evaporation, and iii) an extensively greened area. An equally large gravel area will serve as a reference.
The current review article by the initiators of the green roof "Wetland Roofs as an Attractive Option for Decentralized Water Management and Air Conditioning Enhancement in Growing Cities - A Review" shows how important such a research infrastructure is these days which is also proven by the fact that seven UFZ departments, the Office for Environmental Protection of the City of Leipzig, the University of Leipzig (Institutes for Biology as well as for Meteorology) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation have already expressed their interest to cooperate in order to research solutions on the topic "Green Roofs in Urban Areas".
Interested in cooperation with us?
The research plan for 2020 is currently being developed. If you are also interested in a cooperation or background information, please contact us or visit our website.
Contact: Joachim Nöller, WTT ()
Zehnsdorf, A., Willebrand, K.C.U., Trabitzsch, R., Knechtel, S., Blumberg, M., Müller, R.A. (2019): Wetland Roofs as an Attractive Option for Decentralized Water Management and Air Conditioning Enhancement in Growing Cities – A Review. Water, 11, 1845, 1-16
©Tobias Hametner / UFZ
Bioelectrosyntheses are based on the combination of enzymatic and microbial syntheses with electrochemical process steps and allow the advantages of both technologies to be optimally exploited. Bioelectrosyntheses can thus make a significant contribution to the future bioeconomy. The position paper of the DECHEMA (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) published under the leadership of Dirk Holtmann (DECHEMA Research Institute) and Falk Harnisch (UFZ) outlines the state of the art and the potential of bioelectrosynthesis. At the same time, it also addresses the areas in which there is still a need for research. The paper thus provides an excellent overview of this up-and-coming field of research.
Bioelectrosyntheses as essential building blocks of a successful bioeconomy
Electrobiotechnology already covers a broad spectrum of possible applications, from biofuel cells for wastewater purification to biosensors, the removal of pollutants from water or soil and the synthesis of complex chemicals. CO2 can be used as a raw material in bioelectrosyntheses and help to achieve the goals of the "National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030".
Quo Vadis Bioelectrosyntheses?
While research on biofuel cells and electrochemical biosensors is already very advanced, the development of bioelectrosynthesis is still in its infancy. The need for research ranges from a better understanding of the processes involved in electron transfer to the development of suitable electroenzymatic or microbial systems and reactor design. The authors therefore call for sustainable public funding that includes both scientific principles and cooperation between industry and academia. In their opinion, this is the only way to develop tomorrow's technology from today's promising research results and thus make a significant contribution to securing raw materials, sustainability and climate protection.
For further information, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Falk Harnisch, UMB,
Download of the position papier (in German): https://dechema.de/dechema_media/Downloads/Positionspapiere/2019_Bioelektrosynthese-p-20005535.pdf
The prediction of the dynamics of complex microbial communities is of increasing importance for various questions and often sheds light on the cause-effect relationships of the species involved.
Increasing focus on microbial communities
Microbial communities are widespread in nature and are of high interest not only because of their increasing importance for biotechnological applications. However, their complexity makes it difficult to identify the underlying mechanisms that influence their dynamics. While experimental Meta-OMICS techniques are now routinely used to measure the composition and activity of a microbiome over time, it is still difficult to make quantitative predictions about the development of a microbiome based on such data.
µbialSim - a versatile simulation software from the UFZ
The UFZ simulation software µbialSim is based on the dynamic Flux Balance Analysis (dFBA). It is able to predict the temporal course with respect to composition and activity of microbiomes with hundreds of species under batch or chemostat conditions.
The activity of individual species is simulated by the use of separate genome-wide metabolic network models where a shared pool of chemical substances allows the exchange of metabolites between species.
A newly developed numerical method with flexible control of time step sizes guarantees numerical accuracy, even for example, when many species consume a substrate and thereby cause an abrupt decrease of the latter’s concentration.
With the focus on metabolite exchange as the main interaction, µbialSim enables the mechanistic simulation of microbiomes in their natural complexity. Simulated trajectories can be used to contextualize experimental Meta-OMICS data. Moreover, scenario simulations can be used to derive hypotheses about cause-effect relationships that drive community dynamics.
In a recent publication, the UFZ authors present three exemplary applications of µbialSim: the batch culture of a hydrogenotrophic archaeon, a syntrophic community of two, and a human intestinal microbiome comprising 773 species.
µbialSim is open source
µbialSim is implemented in Matlab and is based on the COBRA Toolbox or the CellNetAnalyzer for FBA calculations. The source code is available under the GNU General Public License v3.0 at https://git.ufz.de/UMBSysBio/microbialsim.
Dr. Florian Centler, UMB,
Lit.: Denny Popp and Florian Centler (2019), µbialSim: constraint-based dynamic simulation of complex microbiomes, Preprint on bioRxiv (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/716126v1?rss=1)
Bio-based manufacturing processes as the key to achieving climate targets
With a market volume of 23 billion EUR and growth rates of over 20%, industrial biotechnology has the potential to become the predominant technology of tomorrow's chemical industry. Therefore, the UFZ addresses this important market with its biotechnological approaches for the production of chemicals such as caprolactam, adipic acid or caproic acid from sustainable sources and classical production processes. In addition to genetically modified microorganisms, mixtures of phototrophic and heterotrophic organisms are also used in special reactors.
EFIB is one of the leading partnering conferences in Europe
At the event in Brussels, over 80 speakers presented current developments, new technologies and trends in various key areas, thus summarising the current status and perspectives of the bio-based industry. The event was complemented by a start-up village, poster presentations of European research institutions, an exhibition and a special event presenting existing bio-based innovations in everyday life.
In 2020, the event will be held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Joachim Nöller, WTT,
The bark beetle population, which has increased last year probably due to climate change and the drought, seems to be getting out of control in more and more federal states. The beetle has long since spread in the forests and is causing enormous damage there where it finds ideal conditions at the moment meaning there will be a third brood this year. According to experts, the spread must now be stopped at all costs. Otherwise, there is an even greater risk of damage after hibernation.
"An incomparable catastrophe is happening in the Saxon forests," says Thomas Schmidt (CDU), Saxonian Minister of the Environment, during a visit to the Federal Armed Forces near Flöha (central Saxony).
The Saxon State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture (SMUL) also uses data from the UFZ German Drought Monitor (www.ufz.de/duerremonitor) to analyse and forecast the spread of the pest. Science-based models thus help to combat the catastrophe in practical terms.
The UFZ Drought Monitor for Germany visualises soil moisture in almost real time and in high resolution of 4 × 4 km². The resulting maps are easy to understand as the numerical information is translated into five drought classes. In practice, both information and data from the drought monitor are very often used to classify the 2018/19 drought in the long term. The main users are numerous public institutions (mainly at state and municipal level) and private companies from different sectors. The Drought Monitor website has been visited more than half a million times in the current drought discussion alone. In addition to using the information and graphics in television and radio reports, the Drought Monitor has been published more than 150 times on public print media and, last but not least, cities and municipalities also use pictures from the Drought Monitor at information events for their citizens. The UFZ Drought Monitor thus also makes an important contribution to closing the gap between the more science-based climate indicators on the one hand and the practical requirements on the other.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Andreas Marx
Scientific Coordinator, Helmholtz Climate Initiative
Head of Climate Office for Central Germany at the UFZ
Department of Computational Hydrosystems
Phone: 0341 235 1074
Starting from the 2019-2020 school year, the UFZ teaching lab, together with the University of Leipzig, Porsche Leipzig GmbH, Deutsche Telekom Technik GmbH, and VDI GaraGe will support 16 pupils aged between 15 and 16 in their science classes and teach them about UFZ research and environmental topics.
Pupils of the Leipzig Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium, Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium, and Neue Nikolaischule will take part in the courses. They will be introduced to UFZ’s focus areas of renewable energies, biodiversity, bionics and data processing (of research data from models and scenarios).
Since 2012, the Junior-Ingenieur-Akademie has been supporting talented pupils who are interested in science and technology awakening their interest in technical and (engineering) scientific careers. The joint project fundamentally contributes to discussions regarding the lack of young engineers, early career orientation, and networks between schools, universities, as well as businesses and develops new practice-oriented learning methods.
The Telekom foundation supports and disseminates the JIA project throughout Germany. Every school can establish a project. Since the start of the project, a nationwide network has been created. The Deutsche Telekom Foundation's partner is the Südwestmetall employers' association, which disseminates the so-called Schüler-Ingenieur-Akademien (SIA) in Baden-Württemberg that were used as a model for the JIA. The difference: The SIAs are aimed at pupils in upper secondary school.
You can find more information here (in German).
If you have any further questions, please contact Dr. Torsten Lange, head of UFZ teaching lab, .
These days, data is generated on countless occasions, at weather stations, bus stops, in vehicles, via satellite pictures or simply use of mobile phones. The project S2DES (“Smart, Sensor-based Digital Ecosystem Services”), funded by the SAB in the frame of the InnoTeam programme (co-funded by the ESF), aims to assess how sensor data can be used across domains, and what the added value of such cross-domain usage could be.
The project especially works towards establishing the required reference architecture and suitable integrated models for a cross-enterprise platform.
This year’s community meeting under the headline “cross-domain integration, analysis and visualisation of data: the example of the digital city” brought together 35 participants from industry and research institutions. Apart from updates regarding the progress of the project and technical presentations, the focus was on the two workshops “technical modelling of analysis scenarios” and “sensor data integration, analysis, machine learning and visualisation: the example of the S2DES platform”. Participants could also gain deeper insights into the functionalities of the S2DES data analysis platforms directly, as several demonstrators were exhibited.
A fourth S2DES community meeting is planned for 2020. The exact date will be advertised well in advance.
UFZ contact for S2DES:
The UFZ provides an online nature conservation monitoring of the expansion of renewable energies in the electricity sector for interested parties, planners and authorities.
The necessity of restructuring the energy system and the positive effects of renewable energies on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are undisputed. Climate protection is an important prerequisite for the conservation of nature and landscape and contributes to the long-term survival of species.
But how do renewable energies affect the objects of protection defined in the German Federal Nature Conservation Act?
For a long time, renewable energies were considered environmentally friendly per se, but as they expand, their effects on nature and the environment become more apparent leading to increasing conflicts with nature conservation objectives (e.g. bird and bat strikes on wind turbines, loss of fallow land and biodiversity due to monocultures with energy crops, or the impairment of landscape due to high-voltage power lines).
Systematic and recurrent monitoring has so far been lacking in this respect.
Such monitoring, which bundles the effects on nature and the environment caused by the construction and operation of plants for the generation and transmission of electricity from renewable energies, has not yet existed. However, this monitoring system could, among other things, extend national reporting on the expansion of renewable energies to include the effects on nature and the landscape and, in the medium term, gradually improve knowledge on impacts. Problematic developments in the future expansion of renewable energies could thus be identified at an early stage and avoided.
The published Renewable Energy Monitor now provides the necessary data on a daily basis.
With the completion of the research project "Nature Conservation Monitoring of the Expansion of Renewable Energies in the Electricity Sector and Development of Instruments to Reduce the Impairment of Nature and Landscape (EE-Monitor)", funded by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), this monitor has now been put online for all interested parties. It provides plant-specific basic data on renewable energies for electricity generation (wind energy, photovoltaics, bioenergy and hydropower, overhead lines, underground cables) which are updated every day.
Link to EE-Monitor:
The project was supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Funding code FKZ 3515 82 2700 UFOPLAN 2015
Prof. Daniela Thrän,Department of Bioenergy, UFZ
The European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine waters (ETC/ICM) - led by the UFZ since 2014 - has published its first Technical Report in 2019.
Since 2014, the UFZ has been leading the European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters, thus pooling the EU's expertise in monitoring and assessing European water resources. In the period of 2014-2018, the international consortium of the ETC/ICM consisted of 17 research institutions, organisations and national offices. For the period of 2019-2021, 15 institutions will work together to consolidate data on the use and status of water resources and evaluate them.
The ETC/ICM has published its first Technical Report in 2019 titled "Development of a pilot 'European seafloor integrity account' assessing fishing pressure on seabed habitats". The purpose of the report is to review existing approaches to assessing the impact of fish-induced physical disturbances on seabed habitats.
For further information please contact
On 28 June 2019, actors from the Federal Government, the states and associations met with scientists for the 5th time to discuss legal, organisational and fiscal implementation deficits of the Water Framework Directive and recommendations for action on ecological watercourse development in Germany.
The implementation of the ecological water quality objectives of the EC Water Framework Directive is making little progress in Germany. Only about 8% of water bodies reached the target status by 2015. In Lower Saxony the figure was only 2%, and the management plan for the current management period up to 2021 promises only limited progress. Against this background, the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy, Building and Climate Protection has commissioned a research group from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) to investigate the main reasons for the implementation deficit and to identify ways of improving the legal, organisational and fiscal efficiency of ecological watercourse development.
The study shows that the implementation crisis is essentially due to deficiencies in legal enforcement, planning, organisation, equipment and financing. It is shown that inadequate institutional and fiscal implementation is a violation of the WFD and proposals are made on how these implementation deficits could be addressed.
The "5th Leipzig Talks on the Water Framework Directive" brought together around 50 experts from the federal government, the states, associations and science to discuss the results and proposals of the study and to consider how the implementation crisis can be overcome in the approaching 3rd management period and beyond. The implementation situation in the federal states of Bavaria, Hesse and NRW was presented by expert speakers. It became clear that in some respects the organisational implementation and planning of measures in these states is more effective than in Lower Saxony. Irrespective of this, the experts agreed that the Federal Government and all the federal states still have considerable efforts to make - even beyond 2027 - in order to be able to fully implement the objectives of the guidelines, in particular with regard to planning, organisation and financing. The exchange provided numerous further insights and perspectives. A more detailed conference report will be published soon on the UFZ website.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact
Metalloproteins are proteins that contain one or more metals. About one third of all proteins in all organisms contain metals. Metalloproteins play a decisive role in important physiological processes, e.g. in enzymatic conversions and in respiratory chains in which electric current is coupled with proton translocation through the membrane.
In order to gain a better understanding of the distribution of metal ions in bacteria and the function of metalloproteins, a team around Rohit Budhraja and Prof. Dr. Lorenz Adrian, both from the UFZ Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry, succeeded in investigating anaerobic respiratory chains with quantitative whole cell metallomics from very little cell material and thus determining the absolute metal content in the cells.
The study quantitatively determined the complete metallome of different anaerobic respiratory components at the level of the entire cell and membrane with a focus on membrane-associated respiratory complexes that contained Fe, Co, Ni and Mo. The amount of metal was determined in a comparative analysis by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry using a triple quadrupole in different microorganisms such as E. coli, Candidatus Kuenenia stuttgartiensis and Dehalococcoides mccartyi at membrane level as well as Desulfovibrio vulgaris, Geobacter sulfurreducens and Geobacter metallireducens at cellular level. This enables the detection of small amounts of metals in complex biological samples. The decisive factor in the investigation was that mutations in metalloproteins or mutations in the proteins of the metal metabolism could be found directly in the whole cells, thus describing a tool for the broad investigation of the metal metabolism.
The work makes a valuable contribution as a reference point for absolute microbial metallomics, paves the way for the development of methods for rapid and simple mutation screening and contributes to the biotechnological use of metalloproteins.
Rohit Budhraja, Chang Ding, Philipp Walter, Stephan Wagner, Thorsten Reemtsma, R. Gary Sawers, Lorenz Adrian: The impact of species, respiration type, growth phase and genetic inventory on absolute metal content of intact bacterial cells, Metallomics, 2019,11, 925-935.
Please contact us for further information: Prof. Dr. Lorenz Adrian, Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry,
MAXX Mess- und Probenahmetechnik GmbH, a long-standing research partner of the UFZ, was awarded the 2nd Prize in Measurement and Control Technology Industry 4.0 endowed with 7,000 Euro by the Baden-Württemberg Minister of the Environment on 16 July. Together with the UFZ, the company developed a pesticide sampler.
The prize was awarded for the joint development of a unique and mobile sampler for the event-driven sampling of water samples for water monitoring. The device is used, for example, in the pilot study “Kleingewässermonitoring – Small streams monitoring” (Implementation of the National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products (NAP) - Pilot study to determine the contamination of small streams in the agricultural landscape by pesticides residues) which has been coordinated at the UFZ since 2017 and carried out together with the German Federal Environment Agency. The mobile samplers are also used in the event-driven measurement campaigns of the MOSES initiative.The device was developed by MAXX GmbH in cooperation with the UFZ Departments of Effect-Directed Analysis (Dr. Tobias Schulze) and System-Ecotoxicology (Prof. Dr. Matthias Liess).
The sampler allows a simplified, event-driven sampling of water bodies and an improved assessment of the impact of extreme rain events on water quality. A particularly innovative feature is the possibility to obtain different sample types (unfiltered water sample, filtered water sample and suspended matter) with the same automatic sampler. The unfiltered sample is cooled directly for preservation. The filtered sample is extracted on site using large volume solid phase extraction. The solid phase consists of a polymer that absorbs the substances that are dissolved in the water like a sponge.
Within the framework of small streams monitoring, the extracts of the polymer and the suspended matter are comprehensively examined. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, nutrients and metals, amongst others, are determined in the unfiltered water sample. The complex collection of water and suspended matter samples is necessary because chemical substances (e.g. pesticides, pharmaceuticals, metals, nutrients) occur in dissolved form or bound to solids (e.g. sediment, suspended matter) in water.
Dr. Tobias Schulze, UFZ Department of Effect-Directed Analytics
Prof. Dr. Matthias Liess, Head of the Department of System-Ecotoxicology at UFZ
Biogas Innovation Award of German Agriculture goes to Leipzig cooperation project
At the 12th Biogas Innovation Congress in Osnabrück on 22 May 2019, researchers Maria Braune from the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) and Dr. Heike Sträuber from the UFZ received the 10,000 Euro Science Award for their joint project "From biogas plant to biorefinery – coupled production of medium-chain fatty acids and biogas".
As part of a scientific cooperation between the UFZ and the DBFZ, the winners developed a biotechnological process for the production of the fatty acids caproic and caprylic acid from regional biomass. The target products are speciality chemicals which have a broad application spectrum and can be used in different industrial sectors such as lubricants, cleaning agents or cosmetics.
The process enables biogas plants to expand their product range and develop new business models while continuing to allow economic operation of the plants. Finally, it will be demonstrated how the chemical industry can use regional, renewable raw materials rather than relying on fossil fuels or globally traded, potentially unsustainably cultivated renewables. The two researchers are thus making a contribution to climate protection and sustainable development.
Link to press release
For further information please contact Dr. Heike Sträuber, Department of Environmental Microbiology,
Business talk of the Cluster Team Environment with focus on Latin America
On the 17th of May, representatives of industry, academia and public administration met in the frame of the “business talk” series of the Cluster Team Environment (NEU e.V.) in order to exchange experiences, make new contacts and generate project ideas.
This altogether eighth “business talk” focussed on international cooperation in environmental technologies, with a focus on Latin America. Following a short introduction, four presentations highlighted very different aspects of such cooperation options, from economic and political conditions for (network) activities in Chile, presentation of a new process to produce raw materials and clean water from mining wastewater, experiences from biogas implementation projects in Ecuador to an introduction into the expert network future city, DE-USnet. All presentations were followed by in-depth discussions, and finally by an informal exchange of experiences and ideas. We hope the latter will result in new successful projects!
The next business talk of Cluster Team Environment will take place in autumn 2019. Suggestions for topics are still welcome at this stage.
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
An ever increasing number of chemicals and chemical blends on the one hand side and a great diversity of protection and conservation goals on the other hand side, it is no longer possible to test every chemical substance in detail, let alone in extensive animal testing series. Thus, new methods are required in order to achieve the social goal of a “non-toxic environment” (EU Dec 1386, 2013).
The fish embryo model uses the so-called AOP (adverse outcome pathway) concept in order to link certain key events to possible detrimental effects of chemicals. Neuro-toxic effects, for instance, can be identified through movement patterns of fish embryos. The analysis of phenotypic changes or gene expression is also very useful, as these aspects increase the diagnostic and prognostic capacity of the testing system.
In the frame of the BMBF-funded R&D project „ZFminus1“, the UFZ, supported by Sanofi, developed a software which uses automated visual analysis to detect toxic effects on the development of fish embryos. This software is now available for download under a Copyleft Licence (GNU General Public License Version 3, Free Software Foundation, www.fsf.org). Additionally, a scientific paper was published in „Toxicological Sciences“, and periodic user workshops support the application and further optimisation of the testing system. Moreover, UFZ and L’Oreal together organise a symposium “fish and amphibian embryos as alternative models in toxicology and teratology” every two years in order to further promote the application of the testing system in screening and in risk assessment procedures for chemicals.
In case of any questions or comments, please refer to
Teixido, E., Kießling, T.R., Krupp, E., Quevedo, C., Muriana, A., Scholz, S., 2018. Automated morphological feature assessment for zebrafish embryo developmental toxicity screens
Tox. Sci. accepted. View full text (open access)
Since 15.04.2019, trial operation at Kupferhammer site is under way
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 is now starting to run at Kupferhammer to remove phenols and BTEX from the groundwater. As in the case of the two other large plants in Leuna, the operating company is once again the LMBV.
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, and is an economic and efficient tool to remove a broad range of hydrocarbons from polluted aquifers. The technology was part of the “Deutscher Umweltpreis” (the most valuable environmental award in Europe) awarded in 2018.
For questions on the V-EcoTech-Filter, please contact:
Lake Kivu is situated in East Africa, on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its deep water zone is known to hold not just around 250 bn m³ of carbon dioxide, but also over 30 bn m³ of methane. The latter is a significant and economic energy resource for Ruanda, and industrial exploitation at small scale started in 2015. The aim is not just to make use of the enormous and probably renewable methane resources, but also to prevent gas eruptions.
Due to their extensive knowledge and experience regarding linophysics, meromictic lakes, extreme gas loads and spontaneous gas releases of lakes (see e.g. https://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=352989), UFZ scientists were appointed to an international advisory panel which will accompany the exploitation and provide national scientists as well as the ministries in charge with guidelines for a responsible management of the resource.
In a first step, UFZ scientists introduced their Rwandan colleagues to the required monitoring procedures and technologies, the key element being gas load measurements in Lake Kivu. In the past, different methods were applied to this end and resulted in partly conflicting findings. A comparative measuring campaign in 2018 showed the UFZ method of in-situ sampling with sample bags and gas chromatography to be the most exact and reliable one, since is requires only little calibrated equipment. Such calibration as is required can easily be done even in the remote areas of Rwanda.
For further information please contact:
On the 8th of May 2019, a delegation of companies from Chile, Colombia and Peru visited the UFZ in order to find out about some of our main topics and options for cooperation.
The seven participants from South America represented sectors such as environmental and energy technology, water treatment or food industry. From the UFZ, four people from the Departments of Environmental Engineering, Centre for Environmental Biotechnology, Environmental Microbiology and Knowledge & Technology Transfer took part in the exchange.
The delegation was accompanied by staff of the Saxon Economic Development Corporation and the company Conoscope, who had organised the four-day visiting tour through Saxony in the frame of a sector-specific trade promotion project (BBA). Both UFZ staff and guests showed high interest in the topics and challenges of the other side. First points of mutual interest could be identified, and will hopefully be followed up subsequently.
For further information please contact:
Water scarcity is largely produced by misallocation and pollution of water resources. Therefore, wastewater treatment has a pivotal role in tackling water scarcity. Closing local water cycles via safe collection and treatment not only eliminates water resources pollution, but also provides treated water for reuse.
Especially in the arid regions of the world, water scarcity affects millions of people. The development of novel solutions to overcome this problem is one of the aims of the Institute of Advanced Technology Integration (IATI) in Oman. In collaboration with the Research Council (TRC) of Oman and the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (UBZ) at the UFZ, scientists developed an innovative system for integrated wastewater treatment and reuse. Shamsa Al Saadi from IATI, Oman, who is currently doing her PhD at UBZ, presented her results at the Water Research and Innovation Award Forum on 19 March in Muscat, Oman. There, she was honoured with the third place in the category “Innovation” for her outstanding work. Intellectual properties are going to be registered by the Omani collaborators soon. The invented system was investigated at the German demonstration site at BDZ (Educational and Demonstration Centre – Decentralized Infrastructure), Leipzig, and is planned to be implemented in a technical scale in Oman.
For further information please contact:
How can you reliably determine the average water content in the root zone of a large area of arable land? This question was examined and various scientific approaches were tested as part of a long-standing cooperation with the University of Arizona, the University of Heidelberg and the US company Quaesta Instruments Inc. At the end of 2018, this resulted in a joint invention which was filed as a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The invention is used to measure the water or snow content near the ground surface on different scales. It is based on previous devices of cosmic ray neutron sensors of Quaesta Instruments Inc., but increases the measurement accuracy significantly.
The strength of the cooperation is reflected in the complementary competences of the inventor team. Prof. Dr. Marek Zreda (University of Arizona) and Dr. Martin Schrön (UFZ) have extensive expertise in measuring cosmogenic neutrons in the field. Marek Zreda is the founder of this method for the determination of soil moisture. Martin Schrön established the DFG research group "Cosmic Sense" together with the University of Potsdam and six other institutes from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2018. Furthermore, he and Markus Köhli (University of Heidelberg) have developed a computer model for the cross-scale simulation of cosmogenic neutrons and gained new insights into the physical principles of the measurement method. The entrepreneur Steven Hamann (Quaesta) developed the corresponding measurement instrumentation.
Possible applications include the observation of soil water content to improve the understanding of hydrological processes and support of climate models and weather forecasting. In agriculture, the invention could be used to improve irrigation systems, in construction to assess the water content of various soils. Finally, it can be applied in snow measurements for early warning systems and avalanche hazard assessment in the field of alpine hydrogeology. The technology is already being used in(Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems), subproject "Heat Waves", and will be used in (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) in the future.
Quaesta is responsible for the market launch of the device. A corresponding license agreement has been concluded and the first royalties have been generated by the UFZ.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Martin Schrön, Department of Monitoring and Exploration Technologies:
New method for species-specific high-throughput analysis
The UFZ and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) have expanded their cooperation with the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig in the field of allergology and respiratory diseases.
For this purpose, the monitoring station on the roof of the University Hospital was extended by two new jointly operated pollen traps. The aim is to capture pollen using different methods and gain new insights into the relationship between air quality, pollen diversity and allergenicity in urban areas ().
The UFZ brings twofold know-how in the collaboration. First, in the field of measuring air quality (fine dust, NO2, SO2) and environmental parameters such as precipitation types and UV radiation (Dr. Jan Bumberger). Here, novel concepts of data integration and data management are realised in another project (- Smart Sensor-based Digital Ecosystem Services). They allow to precisely elucidate the relationships between the various components investigated. Second, the study uses a new method developed by the UFZ. It was filed as a patent application and allows a species-specific high-throughput analysis. In the collaboration, quantitative properties such as the number of different airborne and insect-dispersing pollen as well as qualitative properties of pollen, for example their metabolic activity, will be investigated.
The latter method uses image-based cytometry and allows for the first time a non-stationary sampling with subsequent partially automated high throughput analysis. The procedure is also used for the taxonomic analysis of phytoplankton in aquatic environments. The European Water Framework Directive requires that phytoplankton composition is monitored six times a year. Together, inventor Dr. Susanne Dunker and the Dept. of Knowledge and Technology Transfer identified pollen analysis as another field of application. This was the basis for a new cooperation with the University Hospital. The aim is to test the method for a variety of pollen species for the first time.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Susanne Dunker, Department of Physiological Diversity:
Dr. Jan Bumberger, Department of Monitoring and Exploration Technologies:
"Making my own decisions and doing many different things" - these were Dr. Jennifer Hauck's main motivations when she founded CoKnow Consulting three years ago. Accompanied by the Knowledge and Technology Transfer department and supported by part-time contracts with DEVELOP and UPOL until the end of 2018, she at least had her wings on when she jumped into the cold water.
Since then, Ms. Hauck has been supporting inter- and transdisciplinary projects with a growing team. "Facilitating inter- and transdisciplinary processes", "Methods of co-production of knowledge", "Development of social networks", "PhD planning" are only some of the topics from her current training programme. Since last year, the team has also been increasingly working on assignments outside of science. Facilitation, for example for Thuringia's Minister of Agriculture or for the Business Biodiversity Dialogue Forum 2020 (UBi 2020), enrich Ms. Hauck's everyday life just as much as advicing the Freiimfelde e.V. association and supporting their strategic development. The tax office, the new data protection guideline and many other regulations also ensure that life as an entrepreneur does not get boring...
In 2019, a new business field has been added: "Mediation of conflicts". In addition, the plan is to market the comprehensive training programme and launch several new projects in which CoKnow Consulting is involved as a small company.
Ms. Hauck's conclusion after three years: "Leading my own business is much more than what I hoped for and through joint projects with my colleagues at the UFZ I don't even have to give up working together".
If you have any questions about the company, please feel free to contact Ms. Hauck: Jennifer Hauck,
For further information on our work at the WTT: Milina Rochelle Alber,
We look forward to hearing from you!
Department of Knowledge & Technology Transfer presents UFZ research and acts as broker for topics and contacts
The European Chemistry Partnering in Frankfurt, Germany, is an important networking event for the chemical industry in Germany and beyond. The UFZ, in turn, sees the sector as a major partner with regard to the development and actual application of new, environmentally friendly processes and products and avoidance or remediation of environmental damage due to existing production processes.
In this context, staff of the Department of Knowledge and Technology Transfer (WTT) took part in a total of 13 one-to-one meetings on the 26th of February. Set in a “speed dating” format, each meeting lasted 20 minutes, and WTT staff used this time to present selected topics and research work in the thematic area “Environmental and biotechnology” and to identify common interests. Almost all of these meetings were followed up by exchanging further information and connecting the new contacts to relevant UFZ scientists. Overall, this first experience of such a specific partnering event is deemed a success and will likely be repeated at a given time.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Karen Görner, Department of Knowledge and Technology Transfer at the UFZ,.
EXIST Transfer of Research is a funding programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) which aims at supporting outstanding research oriented start-up projects.
Shortly before Christmas 2018, the UFZ received the funding decision for the RWInnoTec project as part of the EXIST Transfer of Research funding programme. Building on many years of work in research and development of radio wave technology, a four-member interdisciplinary team at the UFZ will be given the opportunity from March 2019 to prepare the spin-off conceptually and professionally and finally found the company.
Dr. Markus Kraus is a physicist and heads the project team. Dr. Ulf Trommler is a chemist, Martin Arlt studied civil engineering and Maria Kraus will complete the team with her business expertise. Dr. Ulf Roland, head of the working group of Applied Environmental Physics, which has been researching radio wave technology for many years and has developed it until ready for application, will take over the mentoring on behalf of the UFZ.
After handing in the written application in January last year, the founding team was able to convince the panel of experts in Berlin of its idea during the presentation of the project in May and obtain a recommendation for funding.
In addition to the project application being recommended for funding, numerous research projects that were successfully carried out within the innovation network RWTec (www.ufz.de/rwtec) formed a good basis. They demonstrated the broad application potential of radio waves in environmental and energy technology as well as in the construction industry.
The company to be founded will concentrate primarily on the remediation of road damage by developing the appropriate technical equipment. Due to the high demand and the associated potential, other areas of application, such as the drying of buildings, will remain an additional focus of the founding team. Through close cooperation with the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK) it is planned to establish innovative processes and products and complete the knowledge of the UFZ in the field of environmental technologies especially in civil engineering and automation technology. In addition, the company to be founded will be integrated into the innovation network RWTec in order to be able to offer the companies of the network tailor-made radio wave technology and services for their applications. This will enable the company to optimally close the existing technological gap.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Milina Rochelle Alber, Department of Knowledge and Technology Transfer at the UFZ,.
Research in the UFZ thematic area of "Chemicals in the Environment" focuses on gaining a better understanding of the fate processes including transformation and biodegradation and effects of chemicals under real environmental conditions and on developing new concepts for evaluating environmental chemicals. The new technology platform CITEPro (Chemicals in the Environment Profiler) will now increase the capacity and efficiency of analysis and evaluation of chemicals and environmental samples. Above all, this will be made possible by automating processes in sample preparation, the exposure of cell cultures and aquatic organisms to individual substances, mixtures and samples from the environment and humans, and chemical analysis. With an international workshop on 6th February 2019, the UFZ will launch a research infrastructure that is unique in the field of environmental sciences in Germany. The German Federation, as well as the Federal States of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have invested a total of around EUR 4 million into creating CITEPro.
E-book for the research project "Light pollution"
Light pollution can be described as the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light at night (see darksky.org).
In recent years, public concern about the environmental and health effects of light pollution has increased, particularly in North America, Europe and some Asian cities. "The non-visual impacts of light at all hours can affect our mood, behaviour and our circadian rhythm", writes LUCI, a global network of cities for expert exchange on urban lighting.
These concerns are intensified by scientific insights about the negative ecological effects of light emissions on wildlife and the introduction of LED lighting, which can be bright and disturbing.
So far, light pollution has been discussed mainly as a problem of industrialized countries, where illumination levels are already high. Yet, light levels are increasing rapidly in developing countries as light poverty is being combatted.
The research project "Light Pollution - A Global Discussion" is based on the assumption that an international expert exchange can be an instructive and constructive contribution to existing debates and controversies over light pollution. It explores the roles of lighting specifiers, researchers, activists, politicians and other experts and actors within the public realm. The project brings together opinions and knowledge from many different countries in order to learn from dark places as well as very dynamic lighting developments.
The e-book presents three expert group discussions and the results of an online expert survey. Since December 2018, the e-book of authors Nona Schulte-Römer (UFZ), Etta Dannemann (Studio Dannemann) and Josiane Meier (TU Berlin) is available online for free.
Further information on the topic can be found here.
With completion of the last JEC (annual success check) in January 2019, the pilot project to determine the potential of founders’ personalities at the UFZ successfully came to an end.
In order to start a successful spin-off, scientists not only need excellent specialist knowledge in their field, but also good business management knowledge and, above all, social skills (management and leadership skills). Normally, a scientist acquires the necessary specialist knowledge through years of intensive research work. Business management skills can be easily gained by attending various seminars, workshops and other further training courses already offered by SMILE* at the UFZ. The social aspect, on the other hand, is becoming the greatest challenge for scientists interested in starting a business, because many do not recognise their social skills or even misjudge them.
In order to tackle this problem, a pilot project was launched at the UFZ in 2017. With the scientifically recognized potential analysis instrument DNLA Management (Discovery of Natural Latent Abilities), the potential of founders’ personalities can be determined. Six scientists from different research areas with different educational levels and different readiness levels of the spin-off project had the opportunity to test this instrument.
A personal competence profile was created based on an online survey taken by the test persons. This served as the basis for the personal evaluation interview with the scientist. Based on the individual strengths and weaknesses, personal development plans were then drawn up for each scientist and concrete measures proposed to build up potential. The recommended measures could be implemented by the scientists themselves.
To promote sustainable development, about 8 to 12 months after the evaluation meeting, the progress of the individual test persons was checked by means of a JEC (annual success check) to determine whether the development plan had been adhered to, which competencies had been developed and where further action was required. It turned out that all 6 scientists have made excellent progress.
All participants gave positive feedback regarding the use and effectiveness of the DNLA instrument.
"I found the DNLA analysis and above all the evaluation discussion very helpful. In a well-structured setting, the discussion offered a lot of room for reflection and concrete suggestions. However, it was almost more important to me that some things became clearer in the course of the interview. I re-prioritised my activities. In this sense, the conversation gave me important inspiration for upcoming decisions." - Working group leader at the UFZ
"The DNLA method has helped me a lot in pursuing my founding ambitions. I was able to clearly identify my strengths and weaknesses in the areas of social competence, management and sales potential. More importantly, based on the DNLA evaluation, concrete recommendations for action and exercises were also discussed in the subsequent personal discussion. All in all, DLNA procedures and coaching were not only very valuable in terms of content, but also a strong motivation to pursue my founding ambitions." - PhD student at the UFZ
*SMILE is a cooperation project of the University of Leipzig, the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK). It is being funded by the European Union, the Free State of Saxony and the participating institutions.
If you have any further questions, please contact Milina Alber
( , Tel. 0341/235-4782)
UFZ scientists inform themselves about the legal use of open-source software and databases
The thoughtless handling of data, databases and software can unintentionally lead to a legal pitfall for many academics when it comes to copyright.
Relevant regulatory conditions must be taken into account not only within a research project, but also afterwards when using and providing the findings.
On 17 January 2019, Prof. Klaus Gennen, specialist lawyer for information technology law and employment law, introduced UFZ employees to the subject of copyright law for computer programs and databases and explained how to deal with open-source software and non-commercial licensing.
Using vivid examples and many opportunities for discussion, the participants were able to gain important insights into usage and exploitation rights as well as the legal consequences in the event of an infringement.
If you have any questions about this or upcoming events, please feel free to contact Milina Rochelle Alber, Department of Knowledge and Technology Transfer at the UFZ (