2013 Willy Hager Prize for RWTH Dissertation


Dr. Claudia Niewersch left a lasting impression on the jury from the Water Chemistry Society with her dissertation on retrieval possibilities for phosphorus: the former academic employee of the RWTH Chair of Chemical Process Engineering received the 2013 Willy Hager Prize for her work.


According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, BGR for short, over 40 million tons of phosphate are used worldwide as fertilizer every year. However, easily accessible phosphate resources are gradually dwindling. It is necessary to close secondary sources rich in phosphate. Sludge falls into this category, as it is approximately five percent phosphate. In order to make the phosphate contained in it usable, it must be concentrated and simultaneously separated from the heavy metals that are often present.

In her dissertation Claudia Niewersch investigated a process that combines nanofiltration with wet oxidation. During the nanofiltration step heavy metals and organic compounds are held back, while phosphate can pass through with a lower pH value. Niewersch determined that the results of nanofiltration were influenced by the concentrations of diverse primary and secondary components. She then developed a model that could significantly help to improve the process.

The Willy Hager Prize is endowed with 6000 Euros and is organized by the Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, DECHEMA, and the Water Chemistry Society of the German Chemical Society, GDCh. The award is given to young scientists for outstanding work in the field of process engineering in industrial water or waste water treatment.