A good ten years ago, the city of Hof officially became a "Bavarian Water Competence Center." Hof University of Applied Sciences plays a central role along with several specialized companies and the Department of Environment of the Bavarian state government (Landesamt für Umwelt), which provides know-how in the areas of water, wastewater, geology, and geothermal energy. Hof University of Applied Sciences is committed to sustainability and "greentech" topics and is currently driving development in these areas through several sustainable water management research projects.
"Climate change means change for water management because there is no substitute for water. Both worldwide and regionally in Bavaria there is an increasing demand for innovative and sustainable water management concepts and solutions that will ensure clean water and ways of managing it during extreme weather events. This presents challenging opportunities for all companies in the water sector and related industries,” says Professor Manuela Wimmer, founding director of the Institute for Water and Energy Management (iwe) at Hof University of Applied Sciences.
There are numerous well-known companies and service providers in the region that operate internationally in the field of water and environmental technology that have joined forces with the Kompetenznetzwerk Wasser (Water Competence Network) and Energie Oberfranken-Ost e.V. (Upper Franconia East Energy Competence Network). Numerous conferences and events, such as the Hof Water Symposium, also take place in Hof. The university therefore welcomes international guests nearly every month, sharing its technological and scientific know-how. With local companies, regional organizations, and the university working together, teaching and research in the field of sustainable water management at Hof University of Applied Sciences are first-class.
The spectrum of applied research projects undertaken at Hof and implemented in cooperation with partnering companies is broad, ranging from the prevention and monitoring of water pollution to intelligent sewer network management and achieving efficiency in water infrastructure through digitalization and resource-efficient aquaculture. In each of these areas, different dimensions of sustainability are considered. Graduates thus have excellent opportunities ahead of them in the field of sustainable water management due to the industry connections it offers and the future-oriented nature of the field, both nationally and internationally.
In a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), researchers at Hof University of Applied Sciences are identifying factors for the successful implementation and transfer of digitization projects to water management, with the aim of making them more effective. Sustainable power generation in aquaculture and wastewater treatment plants and sewers are high on the agenda, as is the avoidance of microplastics and the purification and reuse of wastewater.
With the innovation network S3Rem (Sufficient and Sustainable Removal of Anthropogenic Substances), Hof wants to help make water cleaner. Currently, 4 kilograms of trace substances per inhabitant are introduced into water bodies each year. These are predominately made up of microplastics, tire wear, varnishes and paints from consumer products, building materials, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, and industry. To remove and reduce their presence in waterways, the sources of contamination have to be removed. The kick-off meeting for the start of the innovation network recently took place, which aims to develop solutions, potentially becoming a model for other regions.
Many scientists at the iwe have international research experience and use their networks to enhance international cooperation. Since Hof University of Applied Sciences is striving to strengthen its international orientation, international visiting researchers will find the atmosphere at Hof full of curiosity about other cultures. "As a small but innovative university, Hof has the advantage of creating an atmosphere with a high degree of interpersonal contact among researchers," says Professor Günter Müller-Czygan, head of the Water Infrastructure and Digitization Research Group at Hof University of Applied Sciences.
"People help each other out here, no matter where they are from," Müller-Czygan adds. Anything new is seen first and foremost as enriching, which is then ideally reflected in joint research ideas. Research activities, especially in the water sector, have increased a lot recently, and funding has been obtained for many project ideas. The iwe did an excellent job of launching the Institute for Energy and Water Management five years ago with a major project using EU funds.
The iwe focuses on initiating and implementing application-oriented research and development projects in the core areas of water and energy and links these with the cross-sectional area of digitization. The first major project to be launched in 2017 was the Green Technology Workshop Hof, which received around €1.5 million in funding.
The iwe currently includes 10 professorships, 24 research assistants, 11 research groups, and 27 research projects.
Perspectives: In future, Hof University of Applied Science’s focus on "water and energy" will be further developed through research and in cooperation with regional and national companies.
Teaching Opportunities in English: Sustainable Water Management and Engineering (M. Eng.)
Institute of Water and Energy Management (in German)