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03/10/2022 | Campus-Meldung

Raw materials from waste water

Recovering raw materials from wastewater and advancing climate protection: This is the goal of the RoKKa research project (raw material source sewage sludge and climate protection at wastewater treatment plants) with the participation of the University of Kassel. Fossil raw materials and energy-intensive processes could thus be replaced.

Image: ZVK - Special purpose association sewage treatment plant Steinhäule
RoKKa researches at the Steinhäule sewage treatment plant in Neu-Ulm, among others

With the help of pilot plants in Erbach and Neu-Ulm, the scientists are testing processes for extracting phosphorus and nitrogen compounds for fertilizers from wastewater in sewage treatment plants. In addition, microalgae are used to produce plant fortifiers and soil conditioners for agriculture. Even theCO2 produced during the production of biogas is captured and reprocessed into a raw material for the chemical industry.

The RoKKa pilot project is measuring how much of an impact nitrogen recovery has on the climate balance of wastewater treatment plants. Conventional degradation of nitrogen compounds from wastewater treatment plants produces a significant amount of the greenhouse gas N2O, also known as nitrous oxide. The extent to which the nutrients contained in wastewater serve as food for microalgae is also being tested. In addition to light, algae also requireCO2 for photosynthesis. This comes from the biogas digestion process and is separated with the help of an amino acid solution.

New fertilizer and climate protection - contribution by the University of Kassel

The Department of Urban Water Management headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tobias Morck is involved in the project at the University of Kassel. It is researching purification processes to develop wastewater as a local source of phosphorus for fertilizers and for microalgae to produce plant biostimulants. In addition, the research team is looking at the climate compatibility of the bioeconomic production processes from wastewater investigated in RoKKa.

Scientists from the research institutes of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB), the University of Stuttgart, the University of Kassel and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern are working on the sustainable biorefinery together with the companies SolarSpring GmbH, Deukum GmbH, Nanoscience for life GmbH, Umwelttechnik-BW GmbH, the city of Erbach and the Zweckverband Klärwerk Steinhäule.

The project is funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy Baden-Württemberg and co-financed by the European Union.

For more information, visit

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tobias Morck
Department of Urban Water Management
Kurt-Wolters-Str. 3
34125 Kassel
+49 561 804 2795