Department Process Engineering

Process Engineering

The research focus of the Process Engineering Department (ENG) ranges from current and future wastewater and drinking water treatment problems, as well as water pollution control and resource reuse. Our long-term goal is to develop sustainable concepts of the water and nutrient cycle in residential areas.

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January 20, 2022

Switzerland has around 800 municipal wastewater treatment plants. A recent study by Eawag researchers reveals the burden these plants place on the climate, and explores how emissions of climate-damaging nitrous oxide can be reduced.

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January 18, 2022

Eawag researchers investigated this question in two extensive pilot studies at the Furt-Bülach and Glarus wastewater treatment plants. The findings: Granular activated carbon filtration efficiently removes micropollutants, is technically feasible and is an equal alternative to other processes.

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Success for the practice-oriented PEAK course «Activated carbon»

Geschäftsführer Klaus Alt, Hydro-Ingenieure GmbH, Düsseldorf: «Die GAK-Filtration in Kesselbausweise ist eine kostengünstige und vor allem sehr flexible Lösung zur Umsetzung der Spurenstoffelimination auf ARAn.» Foto: Marc Böhler

On June 22 and 23, the Eawag PEAK course « Activated carbon for the elimination of trace substances – Processes variants with PAC and GAC », in collaboration with the VSA, took place successfully.

The course received a great feedback from the practice, as shown by the high number of 92 participants from engineering offices, plant construction, administration and operators of wastewater treatment plants, who came to the Eawag/Empa Academy for two days to take part in the event.

Successful exchange of experiences and enriching discussions

In addition to the latest knowledge and developments in the field of the elimination of trace substances by adsorption on activated carbon, a larger scope was given to the exchange of experiences on these new treatment steps between operators of WWTPs. A panel discussion showed that there are still questions concerning the representativeness and the informative value of these measurements, especially when it comes to the sampling or monitoring of the treatment performance during rainwater inflow to wastewater treatment plants.

Another exciting subject of discussion was the high CO2 footprint of the use of powdered activated carbon, especially. There was unanimous agreement on the fact that biogenic products should be given priority over fossil activated carbon, when possible. It was also acknowledged that more efforts must be put into producing ideally “SWISS made” coal, both for the use as powdered carbon than granulated carbon.

Author: Marc Böhler

Water Hub: new movie!


Derlon, N.; Desmond, P.; Rühs, P. A.; Morgenroth, E. (2022) Cross flow frequency determines the physical structure and cohesion of membrane biofilms developed during gravity-driven membrane ultrafiltration of river water: implication for hydraulic resistance, Journal of Membrane Science, 643, 120079 (10 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2021.120079, Institutional Repository
Gruber, W.; Joss, A.; von Känel, L.; Biolley, L.; Braun, D.; Morgenroth, E. (2022) Abluftmessungen in der biologischen Abwasserreinigung, Aqua & Gas, 102(1), 24-25, Institutional Repository
Gruber, W.; Niederdorfer, R.; Bürgmann, H.; Joss, A.; von Känel, L.; Braun, D.; Mohn, J.; Morgenroth, E. (2022) Lachgasemissionen aus ARA. Reduktionsmassnahmen zeichnen sich ab, Aqua & Gas, 102(1), 14-22, Institutional Repository
Hadengue, B.; Morgenroth, E.; Larsen, T. A.; Baldini, L. (2022) Performance and dynamics of active greywater heat recovery in buildings, Applied Energy, 305, 117677 (13 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.117677, Institutional Repository
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Research Projects

By recovering nutrients from urine, we develop a sanitation system, which produces a valuable fertiliser
We develop reactors for the separate treatment of urine, feces and water directly in the toilet.
Inadequate access to microbiologically safe drinking water continuously threatens the health and well-being of more than a billion people, primarily in developing countries
Modelling of aerobic granular sludge (AGS) reactors