top of page

Sub-module I - technology, concept & implementation

In this module, project partners will develop sustainable solutions for the recycling of nutrients. The module is divided into seven work packages. RUN-partners develop concepts and technologies to extract nutrients from organic waste and domestic wastewater. The extracted nutrients will be processed into other, recycled products.

The technology experts analyze and model the return of nutrients from the city preferably to urban agriculture. For this purpose, technical possibilities are identified and compared with the de facto feasibility under existing conditions such as the regional infrastructure and logistics options of the city of Heidelberg.

The researchers use wastewater and organic waste to develop products such as a fertilizer, biogas, biochar and bio-plastics. In addition, the scientists investigate the availability of nutrients, the safety (harmful substances) of the fertilizer and assess the efficient use in agriculture. With the help of life cycle assessments, the RUN partners estimate the environmental impact and possible problems of the new technologies.

The design fertilizer have to be of a very high quality standard so that they can be used in agriculture without hesitation whilst guaranteeing at the same time good fertilizer effects. Therefore, they are first tested intensively in laboratory and semi-technical tests.

Besides, the scientists calculate nutrient balances, determine the efficiency of the design fertilizer, and examine the nutrient availability and safety.


Urban wasterwater and waste management experts from the University of Stuttgart (ISWA), wastewater experts from the University of Kaiserslautern (TUK), scientists for crop science at the University of Hohenheim (IPE), and scientists from Thünen-Institute for Agricultural Technology (TI-AT), as well as the engineering offices Björnsen Beratende Ingenieure GmbH and iat-Ingenieurberatung für Abwassertechnik GmbH are involved in the development and investigation of the new technologies.

Sub-module II - system analysis & scenarios

The task in this sub-module with seven work packages is a holistic, systemic analysis for the use of new technologies and concepts of nutrient recycling.

Scientists from the Institute for Agricultural Management (ILB) and the Institute for Crop Science (IPE) at the University of Hohenheim assess the profitability of possible concepts or products for potential users, such as farmers. Scientists from the Thünen Institute (TI-AT) prepare life cycle assessments to identify possible conflicting ecological goals and the Institute for Landscape Planning and Ecology (ILPÖ) at the University of Stuttgart models the regional nutrient management. With the help of these models, favourable areas can be identified and plant locations can be optimized.


Using scenario analyses, the above institutes and the wastewater experts create future pictures of the use of ideas and technology in a nutrient partnership, which also reflect the effects on the local infrastructure, economy and environment.


The scenario analyses are based on a system model that shows the type and quantities of the expected complex material flows. With the help of scenario analysis, system model and life cycle assessment, the researchers also assess, for example, whether conflicts of use or contradictory objectives can emerge between the actors. The transfer of the project results to other regions can also be checked through the work in sub-module II.

Sub-module III - user perspectives

This third sub-module is about the research of possible needs, requirements, experiences or obstacles to the recycling of organic waste and domestic wastewater in agriculture from the perspective of the users of end products. These aspects are researched in a total of five work packages.


Social scientists from the University of Heidelberg (Max Weber Institute for Sociology) and scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (KIT-ITAS) research the attitudes and behavioral traditions of different actors. Further, they look for relevant previous experience with similar projects at other locations. They also organize focus groups and conduct surveys. From this information, they derive factors that influence the psychosocial handling of waste among the central user groups "farmers" and "urban residents".


Together with the gricultural economists the sociologists from Heidelberg work out how a design fertilizer and other recycling products should be made from the perspective of the potential end users or under which logistical and business conditions they can find customers.


The findings are incorporated at early stage into the development of the concepts, into the scenarios and into the design of the pilot plant with information and experience space. The experience space should make all steps in nutrient recycling visible to interested citizens, from the generation of nutrients in households to the return of new recycled products to agricultural production and the resumption of food by consumers. Concepts for exchanging the various user perspectives are also being developed.

bottom of page