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The Chair of Water Chemistry and Water Technology covers in its academic curriculum the relevant chemical, biological and physical processes in aquatic systems. This comprises determination, occurrence and behaviour of geogenic and anthropogenic substances and microorganisms in technical and natural systems. Besides dealing with questions concerning the chemical and biological water quality, the focus is on technical aspects of water use, drinking water and wastewater treatment.

In research and development, the scientific work is closely connected with actual problems of water management and supply:

  • Water quality (trace analysis of chemical water constituents, microbiological aspects)
  • Process development for the analysis of dissolved and particular substances in trace compounds
  • Colloids and Nano particles
  • Imaging techniques for biological, boundary active aggregates/systems (biofilms)
  • Quality of natural waters
  • Process development of chemical, physical and biological water treatment
  • Importance of biofilms for the water quality and technical and natural systems
  • Membrane separation processes for the treatment and reuse of water
  • Biological processes in waste water treatment
  • Oxidation and disinfection processes in water treatment

History of Water Chemistry in Karlsruhe

When the Polytechnical School in Karlsruhe was founded in 1840, Carl Weltzien reorganized the chemistry curriculum. The aim was a systematical education of scientific and technical chemistry. Weltzien was head of the Inorganic Chemistry Department starting in 1850. Twenty years later, Karl Birnbaum took over. His work involved all areas of chemistry which existed at that time. Carl Engler and Hans Bunte were Kirschbaum’s successors, Engler becoming the Head of the General Chemistry Department and Bunte the Head of Technical Chemistry. In 1907, the Research Institute of the German Gas and Waterworks Association (DVGW) was officially affiliated to the Technical University Fridericiana. Hans Bunte taught from 1887 to 1919. His successor and son, Karl Bunte, headed the Department of Technical Chemistry until he died in November 1944. Josef Holluta took over after World War II in 1947. His key activities involved the mechanisms of permanganate reduction, radioactivity in springs, the fundamental principles of chlorination and disinfection in water treatment, and iron and manganese removal. The well-known lecture series "Analysis and Evaluation of Rivers and Lakes and Drinking Water" was initiated by him. His successor, Heinrich Sontheimer, was appointed in 1965. Heinrich Sontheimer enriched the Chemistry Department with his practical experiences gained in industry, especially in the area of water technology. His intensive research considerably advanced drinking water treatment in Germany, in particular the drinking water treatment in the River Rhine. In 1987, Fritz H. Frimmel followed. Natural Humic Substances played an important role in all his work. Other main areas were identification, characterization and evaluation of anthropogenic water constituents and their interaction in aquatic systems as well as their behaviour in water treatment. Especially oxidation processes (AOP, photo catalysis, hybrid processes) and membrane techniques were of great interest. Since 2012, Harald Horn heads the Chair for Water Chemistry and Water Technology.


In the buildings 40.14 and 40.04, the Institute has research and measurement laboratories, lab rooms for students and offices. The building complex 40.14 was occupied in 1962. The extension 40.04 was completed in 1994. It was built on Zone 40 of the University’s campus north of Richard-Willstätter-Allee, and is an extension of the original building (40.14).