HypoWave – New Pathways Towards Wastewater Re-Use in Agriculture

The research project HypoWave addresses the need for a more sustainable handling of the resource water combined with reuse of nutrients in wastewater. To this end, municipal wastewater is treated in such a way that it is available for the use within the hydroponic system. In a hydroponic system plants are cultivated in a nutrient solution and without soil. The aim is to define synergies between urban water management and agriculture, in order to use water in a more efficient way and at the same time produce agricultural products that are safe for human consumption.

Research Approach

The research association will as a first step establish a pilot plant near Wolfsburg which will make it possible to re-use municipal wastewater in agriculture. There, water treatment will be linked to an operating hydroponic system. Occuring technical processes are to be investigated as well as the plant’s economic efficiency and the quality of produced products. ISOE will determine the actors involved, it will analyze the institutional and legal framework conditions and will develop models for a successful cooperation between urban water management and agriculture.

In a second step, acquired knowledge gained during the pilot period – will be examined in case studies in the Hessian Ried, in other European countries, in the border region between Belgium and Germany and in Évora (Portugal). With the help of a supplementary impact assessment performed by ISOE, possible types of application and use are to be determined. 

Additionally, ISOE signs responsible for the quality of the interdisciplinary work within the joint research project. Therefore, ISOE inter alia regularly holds stakeholder dialogues thus enabling a discussion on research results with actors from practice. ISOE will also head the research association’s knowledge transfer to the interested public.


Climate change, urbanization, and contamination of conventional water resources will in the decades to come locally lead to increasing competition for the use of the scarce resource water. For agricultural irrigation, treated wastewater can contribute to an increased supply of water provided that an ecologic and economic operation of the technical plants is ensured. Challenges arise when varying water qualities are to be provided according to the product in question, the quality control, and the consumers’ acceptance of products.

Project Partners

  • Institute for Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Technische Universität Braunschweig (head of project)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB)
  • University of Hohenheim, Institute for tropical agricultural sciences
  • Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI) Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics 
  • Abwasserverband Braunschweig
  • WEB – Wolfsburger Entwässerungsbetriebe
  • ACS-Umwelttechnik GmbH & Co. KG
  • aquadrat ingenieure (a2i)
  • aquatectura
  • aquatune – Dr. Gebhardt & Co. GmbH
  • BIOTEC Biologische Naturverpackungen GmbH und Co. KG
  • Xylem Services GmbH

Associated partners

  • Griesheim council for town planning and the environment
  • Three-country-park Euregio, Maas-Rhein
  • Universidade de Évora, Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, Portugal


The joint project „HypoWave – The use of hydroponic systems for resource efficient water reuse in agriculture” is financed by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding initiative “WavE – Future Proof Technologies and Concepts for Increasing Water Availability through Water Reuse and Desalination (WavE)”.


Fischer, Michaela/Thomas Dockhorn/Martin Zimmermann/Martina Winker (2021): Water reuse in hydroponic plant production: a new facet in agricultural food production. Book of Abstracts. 4th IWA Resource Recovery Conference - IWARR2021 Turkey (Virtual), 5.9-8.9.2021, 168-170

Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Institutes für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft an der Technischen Universität Braunschweig (Hg.) (2020): HypoWave: Einsatz hydroponischer Systeme zur ressourceneffizienten landwirtschaftlichen Wasserwiederverwendung ; gemeinsamer Schlussbericht des Verbundvorhabens. Braunschweig: Institut für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft. https://publikationsserver.tu-braunschweig.de/receive/dbbs_mods_00069134 

Ebert, Björn/Engelbert Schramm/Martina Winker (2020): Gemeinsam Innovationsentscheidungen identifizieren. Methoden und Konzepte für Stakeholderdialoge und die Entwicklung sektorübergreifender Kooperationsmodelle am Beispiel landwirtschaftlicher Wasserwiederverwendung. ISOE-Studientexte, 25. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

Mohr, Marius/Thomas Dockhorn/Jörg E. Drewes/Sybille Karwat/Susanne Lackner/Bryan Lotz/Andreas Nahrstedt/Andreas Nocker/Engelbert Schramm/Martin Zimmermann (2020): Assuring water quality along multi-barrier treatment systems for agricultural water reuse. Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination 10 (4), 332-346

Winker, Martina/Michaela Fischer/Alexa Bliedung/Grit Bürgow/Jörn Germer/Marius Mohr/Andreas Nink/Bea Schmitt/Arne Wieland/Thomas Dockhorn (2020): Water reuse in hydroponic systems: a realistic future scenario for Germany? Facts and evidence gained during a transdisciplinary research project. Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination 10 (4), 363-379

Zimmermann, Martin/Michaela Fischer (2020): Impact assessment of water and nutrient reuse in hydroponic systems using Bayesian Belief Networks. Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination 10 (4), 431-442

Bliedung, Alexa/Thomas Dockhorn/Björn Ebert/Jörn Germer/Marius Mohr/Engelbert Schramm/Martina Winker (2019): HypoWave - Ressourceneffiziente Nutzung von gereinigtem Abwasser in hydroponischen Systemen. Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil 1, 95-104

Bürgow, Grit/Anja Brüll/Michaela Fischer/Martina Winker (2019): Der Landschaftsbaukasten. Flächensensibles Wasserrecycling durch hydroponische Gewächshäuser. Stadt + Grün 68 (12), 28-34

Drewes, Jörg E./Engelbert Schramm/Björn Ebert/Marius Mohr/Marc Beckett/Kerstin Krömer/Christina Jungfer (2019): Potenziale und Strategien zur Überwindung von Hemmnissen für die Implementierung von Wasserwiederverwendungsansätzen in Deutschland. KA Korrespondenz Abwasser, Abfall 66 (12), 995-1003

Ebert, Björn/Tobias Günkel-Lange/Janna Parniske/Engelbert Schramm (2019): Weitergehend aufbereitetes kommunales Abwasser als alternative Wasserressource im Hessischen Ried. Eine HypoWave-Fallstudie. Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IGB

Ebert, Björn/Thomas Dockhorn/Gudrun Peters/Engelbert Schramm/Bernhard Teiser/Martina Winker (2019): Operator models for the reuse of municipal wastewater in hydroponic systems: Potentials and options for Central and Mediterranean Europe. Book of Abstracts. 12th IWA International Conference on Water Reclamation and Reuse, Berlin, 16-20 June 2019, 725-730

Ebert, Björn/Engelbert Schramm/Martina Winker (2019): Reusing Wastewater in Agriculture. A Challenge of socio-technical Innovations.Leverage Points 2019.Conference handbook and programme. Leverage Points 2019 - International conference on sustainability research and transformationLüneburg, Germany, 6-8 February, 34

Fischer, Michaela/Engelbert Schramm/Martina Winker (2019): How business models can help to introduce nutrient recycling in hydroponic greenhouses. Watersolutions (2), 58-65

Mohr, Marius/Tobias Günkel-Lange/Michaela Fischer/Jörn Germer/Martina Winker/Grit Bürgow (2019): Water reuse in hydroponic systems: results from four European feasibility studies. Book of Abstracts. 12th IWA International Conference on Water Reclamation and Reuse, Berlin, 16-20 June 2019, 96-102

Mohr, Marius/Miriam Koch/Engelbert Schramm/Björn Ebert/Jörn Germer/Grit Bürgow (2019): Nutzung des Ablaufs einer Teichkläranlage zum Anbau von Gemüse im hydroponischen System im Landkreis Gifhorn. Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil 1, 131-138

Schramm, Engelbert/Uwe Beythien/Thomas Dockhorn/Björn Ebert/Michaela Fischer/Marius Mohr/Arne Wieland/Martina Winker/Martin Zimmermann (2019): Wasserwiederverwendung zur landwirtschaftlichen Nutzung in hydroponischen Systemen: Anforderungen an die Qualitätssicherung. Zentralblatt für Geologie und Paläontologie Teil 1, 73-82

Drewes, Jörg E./Dennis Becker/Christina Jungfer/Kerstin Krömer/Marius Mohr/Andreas Nahrstedt/Engelbert Schramm/Martina Winker/Martin Zimmermann (2018): Mindestanforderungen an eine Wasserwiederverwendung: Hinweise aus Sicht der WavE-Forschungsprojekte des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF). gwf-Wasser/Abwasser 159 (12), 50-59

Fischer, Michaela/Marc Beckett/Grit Bürgow/Björn Ebert (2018): Modulares Wasser- und Nährstoffrecycling zur Schnittblumenproduktion in der Gemeinde Raeren, Belgien. Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IGB

Mohr, Marius/Björn Ebert/Engelbert Schramm/Jörn Germer/Grit Bürgow (2018): Nutzung des Ablaufs eines Klärteichs zur Gemüseproduktion im Landkreis Grifhorn. Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IGB

Schramm, Engelbert/Thomas Dockhorn/Björn Ebert/Martina Winker (2018): Wasserwiederverwendung im Gemeinschaftsrecht/Water reuse in European Communities law. Kritische Hinweise zur geplanten EU-Verordnung/Critical comments on the planned EU regulation. ISOE-Diskussionspapiere, 43. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung


2016/09 – 2019/12