Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW - Institute for Ecopreneurship IEC

Applied research into evaluating and reducing environmental impacts and developing resource-efficient processes and management concepts.

The Institute for Ecopreneurship conducts research into fields of applied environmental science. We analyse current ecological challenges and research measures to preserve and improve the quality of the environment. As part of this, we develop and test technical solutions for reducing emissions and recycling resources. We devise concepts and optimise processes for resource-efficient production. We also evaluate the environmental compatibility of substances and processes with methods from the field of ecotoxicology and life cycle analysis.

Sound technical expertise and close ties to industry and the authorities are two of our strengths. We have excellent regional, national and international networks in our specialist fields. We are a competent research and development partner and devise practical solutions to current problems – experience which we channel directly into our teaching.

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Thematic expertise

Integrated Water Resources Management

Integrated water management develops holistic strategies and planning tools for the sustainable use and protection of water resources while safeguarding from floods.

Providing water in sufficient quantity and quality continuously and affordably to all stakeholder groups and ensuring the environmentally sound disposal of wastewater is one of the biggest challenges worldwide.

The pressure on water resources is increasing and conflicts of interest between uses and protection of the water resources, as well as the protection against flooding are steadily increasing. Support for more sustainable water supplies and an integrated water resources management are our core competencies. We work interdisciplinary and internationally and network with relevant contact groups such as working groups, institutions, companies, water suppliers and waste disposal companies.

Water for nature

Processes and concepts for water and wastewater treatment and the recovery of valuable substances.

The research group “Environmental and Water Technologies” investigates innovative technologies and processes for reducing emissions and removing harmful substances from water, wastewater and waste. This also includes recovery and reuse of materials. Collaboration with industry and utilities allows transferring our lab-tested processes into practice in pilot-scale or technical scale.

Advanced Water and Wastewater Treatment

The intensive use of water resources and an increasing scarcity in many parts of the world require new treatment concepts

The requirements regarding drinking water purification and wastewater treatment are increasing due to different pressures. In Switzerland organic micro-pollutants are to be removed from municipal wastewater in many cases and drinking water has to be clean and safe at all times. A range of processes is suitable to reduce chemical and microbial pollutants, e.g. oxidative, adsorptive and membrane based processes, which are all investigated in our team.

Membrane Processes

In industrial treatment processes membranes are already established separation technologies. The application is getting more common in municipal drinking and wastewater treatment.

The use of membranes in water and wastewater treatment enables the reliable retention of particles and microorganisms. By dense membrane processes such as nanofiltration and reverse osmosis it is even possible to retain dissolved components such as salts and trace organics. Very high water qualities can be achieved that way and strict discharge criteria can be accomplished. It gets possible to close water cycles and to reduce freshwater consumption. In these areas we test different membrane processes, develop cleaning concepts and even modify membrane surfaces to achieve tailored separation characteristics.

Resource Recovery and Recycling

The recovery of valuable resources becomes increasingly important in a circular economy. In this area, we investigate both new technologies and the legal and economic framework conditions required for their implementation.

One key area is the recovery of phosphorus from sewage sludge for later use, e.g. as fertiliser in agriculture. In Switzerland this is legally required. Also in industry, the recovery of precious metals, rare earth metals and other recyclable materials from waste and wastewater streams can be both ecologically and economically advantageous with the aid of efficient processes. Construction waste, such as old asphalt for example, accumulates in large quantities. With our technical know- how and the assessment of environmental impacts and pollutant risks, we contribute to safe recycling.

Adapted and Near-Natural Treatment Concepts

Developing and emerging countries are addressing water supply and sanitation challenges with nature-inspired solutions

Simple and robust membrane processes such as gravity driven membrane for water supply and related water kiosk concepts are key activities in this field. We support actual implementation in developing countries. We also work on managed aquifer recharge.

Geographic expertise

Contact Person

Dr. Emmanuel Oertlé - emmanuel.oertle@fhnw.ch

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