Water and Wastewater Management

Water and wastewater management is crucial to maintaining quality of life and protecting the environment. In addition to water supply, it also includes water purification, water treatment and the operational optimization of water management institutions.

In times of increasing water scarcity and growing environmental pollution, sustainable water management is becoming more and more important. This requires the implementation of modern technologies, the reduction of water losses, the promotion of the reuse and recycling of water resources and the integration of more environmentally friendly practices into the entire water and wastewater cycle.

Through their applied research and the use of innovative technologies, as well as the development of advanced processes for water treatment, the institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research are making a significant contribution to the sustainable use of water as a resource.

Competencies of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in the Field Water and Wastewater Management

Drinking Water Treatment

Drinking water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world and is threatened by various factors, such as infiltration of salt water and fertilizers. The institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research have therefore set themselves the goal of implementing alternative concepts for the production of drinking water, such as concepts for the absorption of humidity. Our experts are also working on the sterilization of drinking water for use in the pharmaceutical and food industries and on the removal of trace substances, bacteria and fungi.



Water from the air

The approach of the process is to extract water from air humidity using a combined absorption/desorption process. For this purpose, the absorption of air humidity is combined with desorption using vacuum evaporation technology.



The »OxFloc« project is concerned with water treatment, whereby hazardous substances are to be degraded and removed in an integrated approach using a single-stage oxidative-adsorptive process (more information in German).



Water disinfection UV light sources

In collaboration with an industrial partner, the Fraunhofer IGB has developed a new plasma-based high-performance UV light source for disinfection.



The project deals with innovative ideas for an optimal and safe closed water cycle in Euro-Mediterranean tourist facilities. The aim is to reduce fresh water consumption by using alternative water sources.



The aim of the cooperation between German and Chilean research and industrial partners is to develop and research a technology for extracting valuable minerals and fresh water from geothermal brines.


CPV-T Systems

In the project, a combined system of concentrator photovoltaics for the co-generation of thermal and electrical energy (CPV-T) with hybrid desalination systems consisting of reverse osmosis and membrane distillation was developed.

Gray and Wastewater Treatment

Slightly contaminated water, for example from bathroom systems, showers or washing machines, also known as gray water, as well as wastewater from industry and municipalities must be purified so that it can be returned to the water cycle. Our experts are working on processes that combine biological and technical solutions for wastewater treatment. Particular attention is paid to concepts that aim to generate additional energy sources and products, such as biostimulants, in addition to cleaning gray and waste water. Self-sufficient and decentralized water purification systems are also being tested at the institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research.




In the project, a project consortium is developing an efficient and cost-effective process for the electrochemical treatment of this wastewater with the aim of recovering the valuable materials and reusing them in the production process.



The project aims to reduce water consumption, wastewater production, energy consumption, the recovery of valuable metal resources and the minimization of the water footprint in the industry (more information in German).



The aim of the autartec® project is to develop reactors and process chains in which flexible methods can be combined with high energy efficiency in a very small space in order to treat wastewater to produce drinking water.



The Franco-German consortium is testing a solution for the fermentation of organic matter into biogas and the biological conversion of CO2 into methane, as well as for the recovery of the inorganic nutrient salts phosphate and ammonium.

Removal of Pollutants and Trace Substances

The conventional water infrastructure systems of centralized wastewater treatment plants are often not sufficient to remove pharmaceutical and industrial pollutants from wastewater, as they are often unable to completely or only partially break down trace substances. Therefore, the institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research are researching approaches that use oxidative processes and ceramic composite material systems to filter contaminated wastewater. Our experts are also working on electrochemical purification processes for heavily contaminated process wastewater that also produce hydrogen.

Projekte aus dem Kompetenzbereich



The »AtWaPlas« project aims to develop a new process for the elimination of PFAS from groundwater, leachate and wash water based on atmospheric plasma treatment due to the costly nature of conventional remediation processes.



»POLINOM« aims to make functional use of the porous structure beneath the release layer. To this end, new coating materials are to be developed that are integrated into the manufacturing process or in a post-treatment step.



The specific aim of the »MemPhOx« project is to develop and test functional hybrid, compact filtration-photocatalysis material composite systems that can be combined into stacks for the degradation of trace substances.



»SEArcularMINE« will prototype an innovative integrated process recovering energy and CRM such as magnesium, lithium, rubidium and other trace elements (TE), from waste brines in Mediterranean basin saltworks. 


Reines Ried

A dialog forum has been set up and established to support the implementation of the Hessisches Ried trace substance strategy. All relevant stakeholders and participants are involved in this dialog process (more information in German).

Water and Hygiene

Water hygiene and quality are important to ensure that health and the environment are protected. In addition to the development of new types of membranes for water treatment, intelligent water management systems are also crucial. In the food industry, water hygiene is of particular importance and is supported by our experts, for example, through the development of germ-free filling processes. The Fraunhofer Energy Research Institutes also conduct research in the field of biofilm improvement on medical consumables.



Hygienic beer caps

UV LEDs are used to destroy the DNA of bacteria in a new disinfection process. The technology is also suitable for disinfecting brewing water and for disinfecting the caps for bottled beer, soft drinks, and mineral water during the filling process.



The aim of the German-Israeli water technology cooperation project CatMemReac is to reduce the CO2 footprint in water treatment. This involves replacing energy-intensive processes in the oxidation of micropollutants with new sunlight-based processes.



In order to support German companies in opening up the Indian market, the AQUA-Hub project is implementing two Water Innovation Hubs in selected »smart cities« and flanking them with demonstrations of German measurement technology.



In the project six Fraunhofer institutes are developing an integrated system for mobile, distributed medical care. What makes it special is that all of the complete system’s components are modularized and closely interconnected.


La ChiPur

The aim of the »La Chipur« project is to develop a biobased and functionalized flocculant for the efficient purification of seasonally occurring complex agro-industrial wastewater using residual materials from the food industry.

Operational Optimization

Operational optimization in wastewater treatment plants and hydropower plants plays a decisive role in the efficient use of natural resources and the minimization of negative environmental impacts. In wastewater treatment plants, the aim is to control the wastewater treatment process in such a way that the best possible treatment performance is achieved while minimizing energy consumption and operating costs. In hydropower plants, operational optimization aims to maximize energy production and minimize environmental impact. The institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research are therefore working on finding individual solutions to bring wastewater treatment plants up to the latest state of the art at low cost. To optimize the hydropower plants, our experts develop simulation models, for example, which develop plans for the plants taking into account external factors such as weather data and market prices.



Cost savings sewage treatment plant

The city of Tauberbischofsheim commissioned the Fraunhofer IGB to develop proposals for a more cost-effective wastewater treatment plant expansion.


Preventing foam generation in digestion tower

The Fraunhofer IGB was commissioned to identify and combat the causes of foam formation in the digestion tower at the Heidelberg sewage treatment plant.


W-Net 4.0

The »W-Net 4.0« project aims to develop a modular and scalable platform that combines a GIS system, simulation software and data analysis tools and meets high IT security standards.