Raw material and energy efficiency by process innovations

Mobile modular pilot plant for biological purification of industrial wastewater

Mobile pilot plant at the new Fraunhofer IGB technical center.
© Fraunhofer IGB
Mobile pilot plant at the new Fraunhofer IGB technical center.

When introduced into municipal sewage treatment plants, wastewater flows from industry often result in problems from persistent substances or high COD loads (chemical oxygen demand). For logical reasons, industrial wastewater should preferably be cleaned in undiluted concentrations at the place of origin in order to prevent extraordinary burdens on sewage treatment plants and, where appropriate, to allow water to be recirculated within the plant. Wastewater resulting from industrial production processes is mostly unique and variable in composition depending on the production cycle.

It is therefore advisable to carry out pilot tests before designing a wastewater treatment plant. Depending on the composition of the wastewater, it may be reasonable to use anaerobic and/or aerobic processes. In the framework of the “Raw material and energy efficiency by process innovations” (Rohstoff- und Energieeffizienz durch verfahrenstechnische Innovationen) project funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, an anaerobic membrane bioreactor was operated with brewery wastewater in the Fraunhofer IGB technical center and a mobile pilot plant was constructed.

The pilot plant includes an anaerobic EGSB (Expanded Granular Sludge Bed) reactor with a volume of 370 liters and an aerobic Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) with a volume of 250 liters. For flexible use, the modules were designed so that both the aerobic and the anaerobic plant components can be used individually or in combination. Depending on properties of the inflow and the purification targets, the part of the inflow that is lead past the EGSB reactor in bypass can be adjusted. The plant has been automated to the extent that staff is needed only for filling the feed tank.

In mid 2018, the mobile pilot plant will have its first deployment at a pharmaceutical company. Subsequently, the plant will be available for tests by interested companies from various industries. In addition, Fraunhofer IGB assists in the decision about which wastewater flows can be brought together, which can be processed separately and which can be reused after treatment.

Project information

Project title

Raw material and energy efficiency by process innovations


Project duration

November 2012  – December 2016


Project partners

  • Eisenmann Anlagenbau GmbH & Co. KG, Holzgerlingen
  • Institut für Grenzflächenverfahrenstechnik und Plasmatechnologie IGVP, Universität Stuttgart (Coordinator)



We would like to thank the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg for funding the project “Raw material and energy efficiency by process innovations”in the Baden-Württemberg Industrie on Campus program, reference no. 32-7546.31.