|Production of sustainable food in aquacultures - without microplastics and pollutants|
Hof University strengthens its Green Tech research: Sustainable food production in aquacultures entirely without microplastics - that is the long-term goal of a new research project at Hof University of Applied Sciences that will run for two years. The scientists led by project manager Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer have now received funding of EUR 220,000 for "BioBioCarrier" from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and as part of the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM).
Plastics in the food chain are a frequently discussed and increasingly pressing issue: through the consumption of fish, consumers today are absorbing increasing amounts of microplastics into their own bodies. The main culprits here are the large quantities of plastic waste now found in the oceans, where they are broken down into tiny particles and ingested by marine animals. However, the problem of microplastics is not only found in the oceans but also in freshwater - and this is precisely where the new research project comes in.
"In pond management or in large aquacultures, microplastics can in principle be much better excluded due to the closed water systems. On the other hand, however, also here the human factor means that microplastics or macroplastics nevertheless enter ponds or flow-through systems and from there find their way into the organisms of fish, useful plants or mussels. This risk is additionally amplified by various functional plastic components in the system itself," says Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer, head of the research project. The scientists now want to develop a solution at least for closed aquacultures, including aquaponics, i.e. the mixed culture of fish farming and crop cultivation without the use of soil.
Degradable bioplastics for aquacultures
Dr. Harvey Harbach, research associate in the project, explains the project approach: "Our research focus is on the so-called growing bodies of aquacultures. These are visually very close to curlers and serve as a settlement area for useful bacteria in a filter. These bacteria are used to treat the water in aquacultures and clean it of harmful substances. They convert ammonium and nitrite into the more harmless nitrate, which acts as a plant fertilizer. The problem so far is: these growth bodies are still made of conventional, i.e. petroleum-based, plastic." The main objective of the "BioBioCarrier" project is therefore the production of biodegradable growth bodies made of biopolymers for biological water treatment entirely without microplastics.
Long-lasting fertilization effect
However, not only the plastic particles, which are harmful to the organism, are to be avoided in the future. The slow decomposition of the biodegradable growth bodies is accompanied by another positive effect: "When the growth bodies decompose, essential plant nutrients are continuously released into the water as part of the decomposition process, which are needed by the cultivated crops for growth. This therefore results in automatic fertilization. As a result, no or significantly less fertilizer would have to be added manually," says Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer.
Institutes work together
The project combines the expertise of two institutes at Hof University of Applied Sciences and is the first ever inter-institutional project at the teaching and research institution: "The Institute for Biopolymers and Sustainability (ibp) and the Institute for Water and Energy Management (iwe) develop a future-oriented technology in this project in an interdisciplinary manner. The replacement of petroleum-based plastics with bioplastics fits ideally into the sustainable and resource-saving food production through aquaponics. Hof University of Applied Sciences is thus strengthening its profile as a Green Tech university," said University President Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann.
The BioBioCarrier project is carried out in cooperation with the company Christian Stöhr GmbH & Co. Elektro- u. Kunststoffwaren KG from Marktrodach, Germany.
|Studying in times of pandemic: Plans for the summer semester 2021|
As of February 19th 2021, our plans for the summer semester 2021 are:
At the beginning of the semester,lectures will unfortunately only be held online. However, we very much hope that the pandemic situation will allow us to hold at least some of the lectures in attendance or as hybrid lecturesstep by step during the course of the semester. The current legal situation allows us to conduct practical laboratory excercises in presence - we want to make use of this possibility. We are currently working on a concept of how we can make the implementation of these lab excercises even safer by conducting quick tests. You will receive more detailed information about which lab excercises are carried out in presence from the departments or program heads.
Please note that due to the uncertain pandemic situation, changes to this concept may occur at short notice.
|Sustainable Water Management: the solution to one of the most urgent questions of mankind|
The demand for high quality water is growing constantly and the challenges for the international water industry arising from climate change are getting ever more complex. Without a doubt: the availability of water in the most diverse places in the world is one of the most pressing future questions of humankind.
With the new Master’s program in Sustainable Water Management (starting in October 2021), Hof University offers a unique qualification linking management and technology skills while also integrating sustainability and digitalization. Graduates have numerous job opportunities in a growth sector.
The new Master’s program „Sustainable Water Management and Engineering“ is targeted at students with a Bachelor in Engineering who are looking for an additional qualification with social and environmental relevance:
Sustainable solutions to combat climate change
“We want to qualify a brand-new generation of engineers and managers. Systemic thinking with multi and interdisciplinary skills is the basis for a sustainable and future-oriented water industry – a sector that is significantly influenced by the complex challenges arising from climate change. To meet these challenges with innovative and sustainable solutions is the overall goal of our teaching”, states Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer, Head of the new Master’s program completely taught in English. The core task in the water sector is, according to Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer, to adapt the existing systems, concepts and technologies in the public and private water management to the ongoing changes, or even to establish new ones.
Unique link to digital solutions
The new Master’s program at Hof University has a unique focus on digitalization. Although both nationally and internationally, a few interdisciplinary study programs on water management exist (e.g. in U.S.A., Canada, Spain or Sweden), the new Master’s program at Hof University is unique: “Without the aspect of digitalization, sustainable water management can hardly be realized in the future. Therefore, we place a lot of emphasis on the question of how to tackle the upcoming challenges with digital technologies”, state both Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann, President of Hof University, and Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer.
Interdisciplinary teaching as basis
The Master’s program is based on a multi and interdisciplinary teaching concept. Topics like sustainability and risk management are interconnected with resource management, water treatment, water circulation and sewage disposal. In addition, knowledge on digitizing technology and aspects of social responsibility play a vital role. Thus, students acquire versatile analytical and method skills as well as problem solving expertise and evaluation competencies.
Cooperation with many relevant parties
The Master’s program requires a first degree in engineering or business with a focus on environmental or water issues. “Professional experience in the water sector is an asset. In any case, close cooperation with innovative companies, public authorities and research institutes is integral part of the program”, says Prof. Dr. Wimmer.
Social and ecological components
Theory and practice are closely linked e.g. through group projects in companies. “Research projects, case studies and the Master’s thesis are ideal for linking up the three dimensions of sustainability: economic efficiency, social responsibility and ecological compatibility”, points out Prof. Dr. Wimmer.
Excellent job perspectives
Graduates of this Master’s program have excellent job perspectives: “The job profile of a sustainability manager with focus on water or a water engineer with focus on sustainability and digitalization is already in great demand today – just think of all those innovative companies, research institutes or public authorities that are potential employers. Our graduates are also qualified to work as project engineers, experts and appraisers. One thing is clear: with the growing challenges in water management, the demand for multi and interdisciplinarily qualified experts will increase”, states Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer who is active expert in many networks of the water sector.
The Master’s program „Sustainable Water Management and Engineering“ starts in October 2021 at Hof University. The application portal opens from April 15, 2021. Further information can be found here:
|International Textile Online Week|
In 2021, Hof University offers an International Textile Online Week. Take the chance and be part of it!
Course dates: July 12 - 16, 2021
During this digital program, you will get to know our lecturers and their innovative lecture content.
The event will be held as a series of zoom meetings. Free of charge for students and prospective students!
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