What are the focal points of your work? What goals are you pursuing in your research over the next years?
Schuhen: The core strategy of our work is to detect| remove | reuse microplastics and micropollutants in our water in a holistic manner. Our systemic approach navigates a framework geared towards the common good as it pertains to research, education, communication, and technology development.
The 4th Treatment Step plus in municipal sewage treatment plants is a milestone for us and a key lever for water without microplastics and micropollutants. Another milestone is to prevent microplastics and micropollutants from entering the water cycle in the first place, resulting in the need to remove them from the wastewater in municipal sewage treatment facilities. We are collaborating with various industry sectors in flagship projects dealing with microplastic-contaminated process and wastewater. We are adapting our Wasser 3.0 PE-X® process in feasibility studies, are continuing to evaluate our detection method and ways to reuse so-called waste products.
In the years to come, research of microplastics and micropollutants will continue to grow in importance. Not only do we require new technologies that foster sustainability and help drive circular economy, but we also urgently need a more comparable and reliable database to engage policymakers and industry to inspire action.
The key to success is applied research that embraces innovation transfer, education, and public awareness. Wasser 3.0 covers these aspects. After all, we don't just need one but many solutions to eliminate microplastics and micropollutants from water. These must come from policymakers, industry, science, civil society, from local and international stakeholders, from individuals and groups of people.