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Water treatment in times of climate change - More physics in environmental protection

How innovative methods can help save fresh water

Greifswald/Stralsund, November 30, 2023

Fresh water is one of the most valuable resources on our planet. Only around three percent of the world's available water is freshwater. Increasingly extreme weather conditions such as heat and droughts show that it is a precious commodity. At the same time, the demand for fresh water from business and industry is increasing. This is because an enormous amount of water is required for the production of food, which then has to be purified as waste or process water at great expense - usually chemically and at great cost.

Researchers in the PHYSICS & ECOLOGY project led by Dr. Marcel Schneider from the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald have now achieved very good results: Physical methods such as plasma are competitive with established methods such as ozonation, UV treatment or activated carbon in terms of the decontamination of waste or process water. This competitiveness relates both to their treatment effectiveness against germs and pesticides and to their cost efficiency. Dr. Marcel Schneider explains: "The results confirm our assumption that innovative physical processes such as plasma for decontaminating water can be an alternative to conventional methods. This brings us a big step closer to the goal of purifying, treating and recycling water from agricultural chemicals."

As part of the PHYSICS FOR FOOD alliance funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences has launched with the INP and business partners in a total of seven lead projects, research is being carried out into physical alternatives in the agriculture and food industry. The aim is to use fewer chemicals in agriculture and agricultural production processes, thereby reducing the burden on the environment. It's about more physics in climate and environmental protection.

Since December 2021, the project has moved from the laboratory to quasi-reality. Project partner Harbauer GmbH from Berlin has constructed a demonstrator in which the processes required to turn wastewater back into fresh water using various physical methods can be simulated on a 1:1 scale.

Eight technologies are used in the demonstrator. The technologies already established for water treatment are cans, gravel filters, ultrafiltration, UV treatment, ozone and activated carbon filters, while the use of plasma and ultrasound - two promising processes in total - still need to be further optimized.

These methods are intended to break new ground. Incidentally, there are currently hardly any plants on the scale of the demonstrator in which these innovative technologies can be compared with established processes, but also combined, and which enable treatment under realistic conditions with a high throughput.

This demonstrator has recently been installed in Stralsund. Braumanufaktur Störtebeker GmbH has made part of its brewery site and its process water available for this purpose. A total of one cubic meter of water per hour - the equivalent of five filled bathtubs - will run through the demonstrator, which is housed in a 20-foot shipping container. Thomas Ott, Operations Manager at Störtebeker Braumanufaktur, explains: "Our brewery is characterized by innovative brewing specialities with the best raw materials. Water plays a key role in the entire production process. We are very interested in making our contribution to sustainability and environmental protection and saving fresh water, in particular by reusing it through physical treatment."

The brewery in Stralsund is the second location of the demonstrator. The first promising results were achieved on the premises of the beet-processing factory in Anklam, Cosun Beet Company GmbH & Co. KG (CBC Anklam), were achieved. The demonstrator was used to treat the process water that had accumulated after washing the sugar beet. Miriam Woller-Pfeifer, plant engineer at CBC Anklam, sums up after using the demonstrator: "Our aim is to achieve a complete circular economy in the processing of sugar beet. We want to use all components optimally and sustainably. Water treatment is a central point in our sustainability strategy. The results we have achieved make us very optimistic in this respect."



Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) and commercial enterprises launched the project 'PHYSICS FOR FOOD - A REGION THINKS AROUND! Since then, the alliance has been working with numerous other partners to develop new physical technologies for agriculture and food processing. Atmospheric pressure plasma, pulsed electric fields and UV light are used. 

The aim is to optimize agricultural raw materials and reduce pollutants in food production, reduce chemical agents in seed protection and strengthen plants against the consequences of climate change. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the 'WIR! - Wandel durch Innovation in der Region' initiative (funding reference 03WIR2810).

Further information and videos are available at:

Paulina Druse, Public Relations PHYSICS FOR FOOD
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP)
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2, 17489 Greifswald
tel: +49 170 2600543, e-mail: paulina.druseinp-greifswaldde

Invitation to the public technology workshop: Utilization of biogenic residues in eastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Greifswald, November 09, 2023

The WIR! Alliance biogeniV invites you to a free, public technology workshop at the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald on December 6, 2023. Supported by federal funding, the biogeniV research and technology alliance is seeking new ways for the utilization of biogenic residues to create green power and valuable materials in the eastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania region. The event will feature expert presentations and the collaborative generation of ideas for new technological projects, including a planned pilot facility. The invitation is extended to universities, businesses, specialized institutions, and interested individuals.

Workshop language is German. Mandatory, free registration is possible online until November 28, 2023:

The WIR! Alliance biogeniV is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Since 2020, it has been contributing to a sustainable, regional change in the production of green fuels and recyclable materials based on biogenic residues, green CO2 and renewable energy through research and development.

The technologies selected by the alliance for the production of green fuels and recyclable materials are designed in a variety of ways to exploit the potential of the alliance region and create new recycling chains. Together with partners from science, industry and the public sector, biogeniV is focusing on various areas of innovation tailored to regional conditions: technologies for biomethanol production, technologies for enhanced resource efficiency in biogas production, and technologies for the utilization of previously unused residues such as manure and fermentation residues. Further information on the biogeniV alliance:


Further Information
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication department
Tel.: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

Focus on plasma research: International science conference in Greifswald successfully concluded

Greifswald, 15 September 2023

The 23rd International Conference on Gas Discharges and their Applications (GD2023) ended on Friday in Greifswald, Germany. Around 130 international scientists and industry representatives from 21 countries spent a week exchanging information on the latest developments in plasma research. The conference was jointly organised by the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) and the University of Greifswald.

GD2023 provided a platform for scientific and technical dialogue between different disciplines of plasma research, from basic research to application, especially in areas of energy generation, conversion, distribution, the development of new switching devices, as well as topics in environmental research and technical diagnostics. Current research results were presented in 95 lectures, covering all types of gas discharges, from low-pressure to high-pressure plasmas as well as from thermal to non-thermal plasmas and their transfer into practice.

After 1997 and 2010, the INP is hosting the internationally renowned science conference in Greifswald for the third time. Greifswald is an international centre of plasma research with a tradition of around 100 years in this field of research. It is home to the INP, the largest non-university research institute for low-temperature plasmas in Europe, the IPP, which is working on the development of a fusion power plant based on magnetically confined hydrogen plasma, and the University of Greifswald, which offers a research focus on plasma physics.

The event was opened by Bettina Martin, Minister for Science, Culture, Federal and European Affairs of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. She emphasised the importance of Greifswald as a science location in international plasma research. Prof. Dr. Ralf Schneider, Prorector of the University of Greifswald, explained the history and current range of scientific offerings in the Hanseatic and university city in his welcoming address.

The chairman of the local organizing committee Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Weltmann, director of the INP, was very satisfied with the course and outcome of the conference: "We are very pleased that we were once again able to welcome many renowned experts from all over the world to Greifswald. GD2023 has convincingly shown how diverse and innovative plasma research is and what potential it offers for solving societal challenges. We are proud to continue and develop this tradition of plasma research in Greifswald."

Further information
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Tel.: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

INP receives TOTAL E-QUALITY award for equal opportunities for the fourth time

Greifswald, 14 August 2023

For the fourth time in a row, the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) has been awarded the TOTAL E-QUALITY award. The Greifswald research institute is thus certified for its active commitment to equal opportunities and diversity.

The jury explains in its statement: "In its application, the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology e.V. presents an equal opportunities strategy that fulfils the TOTAL E-QUALITY standards in the various fields of action in an outstanding manner. Due to the exemplary action in terms of a gender and diversity oriented organisational culture, the INP will be awarded the TOTAL E-QUALITY award for the fourth time for the years 2023 to 2025."

Prof. Dr. Thomas von Woedtke, member of the board of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), comments: "Equal opportunities are bindingly anchored in the statutes of the INP and are actively lived at our institute. We feel encouraged and confirmed by the renewed award of the TOTAL E-QUALITY predicate and will continue to strongly support all activities in this regard on the part of the board."

Dr. Christine Zädow, Equal Opportunities Officer at INP, adds: "In recent years, we have focused on measures that help to reconcile work and family life. These include flexible working hours, home office offers and, for example, a parent-child room so that the offspring can also be brought to work if necessary. In addition, we actively support the search for care options for children and relatives in need of care. For our female scientists, we also offer a mentoring programme to qualify them for leadership roles."

Organisations with 15 or more employees can apply for the TOTAL E-QUALITY award. The application requires the presentation of equal opportunities and diversity in the organisation with a focus on gender and diversity equity as well as intersectional and inclusive approaches. The questionnaire targets attitudes, strategies, measures and monitoring. Since 1997, more than 1,000 predicates have been awarded to 366 organisations. Details on the initiative can be found on the website of TOTAL E-QUALITY Deutschland e. V.:

Further Information
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Tel.: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

INP researcher Sander Bekeschus takes up professorship at University Medicine Rostock with focus on plasma medicine

Greifswald/Rostock, 04 August 2023

Dr. Sander Bekeschus, researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), was appointed W1 Professor for Translational Plasma Research at the University Medicine Rostock on 15 July 2023. Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Weltmann, Director of the INP, is pleased about the associated even closer cooperation with the Dermatological University Clinic in Rostock led by Prof. Dr. med. Steffen Emmert and hopes that this will further strengthen the interdisciplinary cooperation between the two institutions in the field of plasma medicine. Bekeschus will expand his research approaches on the use of cold atmospheric pressure plasma in medicine in both Greifswald and Rostock.

Prof. Dr. Sander Bekeschus comments: "I am very honoured by the call from the University Medicine Rostock. This will allow us to deepen the cooperation between the Rostock clinic and the INP in the long term. In addition to the proven application of physical plasma in wound healing, plasma medicine has enormous potential, among other things as an accompanying measure in cancer therapy. I look forward to being able to further intensify this research in the future through my professorship and thank my sponsors and supporters."

Since 2016, the 38-year-old scientist has headed the research group "Plasma Redox Effects", which was established in the Centre for Innovation Competence (ZIK) "plasmatis - Plasma plus Cell" funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2009 and has been consolidated at INP. In this research group, the basic principles and mechanisms of action of established clinical plasma therapy are investigated as well as new medical fields of application of plasma technology, for example in immuno-oncology. After studying human biology, Sander Bekeschus completed his doctorate in immunology at the University of Greifswald. In 2021, he received the "Early Career Award" of the International Society for Plasma Medicine (ISPM) and the "Young Investigator Award" of the Society for Free Radical Research International (SFRR-I). He is also a board member of the National Centre for Plasma Medicine e.V. (NZPM).

Following the appointment of Prof. Dr. Thomas von Woedtke to the world's first professorship for plasma medicine at Greifswald University Medical Centre in 2011, this is now the second professorship in this field. This clearly manifests the outstanding position of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in this field of research.

Further Information

Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Tel.: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

INP again honoured with HR Excellence in Research Award

Greifswald, 05 June 2023

The Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) has received the "HR Excellence in Research Award" for the second time. The seal of quality of the European Union certifies that the German research institute is committed to providing the best possible working conditions for scientists. Around 700 research institutions across Europe bear this award, but only 25 in Germany so far.

Top-level research is only possible with motivated employees. INP therefore wants to offer its employees the best possible working conditions and plenty of room for personal development. To achieve this goal, INP implements the "European Charter for Researchers" adopted by the European Commission in 2005 and the associated "Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers". The renewed award of the HR Excellence in Research Award is proof of the successful implementation of the diverse guidelines.

"We are competing internationally for talent and want to attract the best researchers to our institute. With the HR Excellence in Research Award, we can prove that we adhere to the strict guidelines of the European Union for the best possible working conditions in research," explains Dr. Hans Sawade, Head of Management Support at INP.

The HR Excellence in Research programme involves an analysis of various topics and the creation and implementation of action plans. The spectrum ranges from processes in human resources management and working conditions to training measures and career planning.

"Participation in the HR Excellence in Research programme has motivated us to examine and optimise our entire processes and offers for employees. For example, we have significantly streamlined our application process and now offer regular training on topics such as personnel management or research ethics. Through the involvement of our employees and the feedback from the jury, we have been able to improve significantly in recent years," comments Dr. Christine Zädow, Equal Opportunities Officer at INP. 

Details of the HR Excellence in Research Award can be found on the website of the European Union:

Further information
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology e.V. (INP) 
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Phone: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

Parliamentary State Secretary for Western Pomerania and Eastern Mecklenburg Heiko Miraß visits INP

Greifswald, 20 April 2023

Heiko Miraß, Parliamentary State Secretary for Western Pomerania and Eastern Mecklenburg, visited the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald yesterday. He informed himself about research projects that the INP is planning in the newly opened Z4 Centre Life Science Plasma Technology.

The Z4 complex, which is directly adjacent to the INP building in Greifswald, was ceremonially opened at the beginning of March. Tenants have been able to move into their laboratory and office space since this month. With a total of about 1,000 square metres of laboratory space and about 140 square metres of office space, INP is the largest single tenant in the new building. The centrepiece of the lease is a 400 square metre production hall with a 6.5 metre ceiling height, where INP plans to build a hydrogen reactor, sputter reactor, biomethanol reactor and other facilities.

Heiko Miraß, Parliamentary State Secretary for Western Pomerania and Eastern Mecklenburg, comments: "We are proud of high-tech research from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the field of plasma technology, Greifswald is an important centre in the international scientific community. With the new laboratory space at Z4, the INP can continue to work on innovative technology for a climate-neutral and more environmentally friendly future. The many transfer cooperations with regional partners are particularly exciting, because this means that the INP's cutting-edge research can also generate impetus in the regional economy."

The newly rented laboratories will mainly be used for large-scale INP projects researching innovative technologies. The "CAMPFIRE" project focuses on energy conversion and storage technologies as well as energy systems based on green ammonia. In the "biogeniV" research project, INP is working with partners to develop technologies for the production of green fuels and valuable materials such as biomethanol and biogas from biogenic residues. The "PHYSICS FOR FOOD" project is researching physical technologies for a more environmentally friendly agriculture and food industry.

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Weltmann, Chairman of the Board and Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), notes: "With our application-oriented research, we are looking for plasma-based solutions to major economic and societal challenges in the field of hydrogen economy as well as sustainable agriculture, medical technology and surface technology. For the development of new technologies, we need modern infrastructures like the Z4 offers us. We thank the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for supporting our research and are proud to be able to develop innovations for our state."

Further information
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Research and Technology e.V. (INP)
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Phone: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

EU funds international doctoral candidates network on the use of plasma against precancerous skin lesions

Greifswald, 17 April 2023

Actinic keratosis is considered the most common precursor of skin cancer and is triggered by excessive UV radiation. Without treatment, it can often develop into malignant forms of skin cancer. Under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), the international doctoral candidates network PlasmACT is investigating the use of medical gas plasma technology as a treatment method. The project is funded by the European Union.

Eight young international researchers will work on a plasma-based treatment method and its mechanisms of action against actinic keratosis as part of their doctoral theses. Since 2013, several plasma devices have received approval as medical products in Europe and are successfully used against, for example, diabetic foot syndrome and chronic wounds. Current research now studies the efficacy of plasma against cancer cells. Whether and how plasma technology is also suitable for treating actinic keratosis, an early form of skin cancer, is to be shown by the new research work of the European doctoral candidates network PlasmACT.

Dr. Sander Bekeschus, head of the Plasma-Redox-Effects research group at INP and initiator and spokesperson of the PlasmACT network, comments: "We are very pleased to have the opportunity to open up a new field of application for plasma medicine together with young researchers. The common goal of developing a plasma-based treatment for actinic keratosis would critically support preventing invasive non-melanoma skin cancer."

EU supports training of young scientists

The European Union is funding the work of the PlasmACT consortium within the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the Horizon Programme with a total of 2.15 million euros. The funding serves the transnational and cross-sectoral mobility and career development of researchers and is highly competitive. Only 15 percent of the applications were funded this year.

Renowned European partners have come together for the project under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald, where the researchers will write their doctoral theses: the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Dutch Eindhoven University of Technology, the University Medical Centre Rostock, and the Belgian University of Antwerp. In addition, 10 European companies support the training of the students to prepare them in the best possible way for professional fields of applied research.

What is plasma?

We encounter plasma daily, even if we are unaware of it. About 90 percent of the visible matter in the universe is in the plasma state. Besides solid, liquid and gaseous, it is the fourth state of aggregation in which matter can exist. The electrically conductive mixture of particles consisting of atoms, ions, electrons, and molecules is created when energy is added to a neutral gas. It begins to glow. We encounter this natural phenomenon in nature in the form of the sun, lightning and the aurora borealis. In industry, plasma-based processes and technologies are used not only to coat surfaces, decontaminate food, and clean wastewater and exhaust air, but also in medicine, for example, to heal wounds.

Further information
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology e.V. (INP) 
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Phone: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald // Germany //

German Society for Plasma Technology awards Rudolf Seeliger Prize to INP researcher Prof. Jürgen Röpcke

Greifswald, 28 March 2023
The prestigious Rudolf Seeliger Prize of the German Society for Plasma Technology (DGPT) was awarded to Prof. Dr. Jürgen Röpcke yesterday during the 20th Symposium on Plasma Technology (PT20) in Bochum. The long-time employee of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology e.V. (INP) receives the prize for his life's work. 

With the Rudolf Seeliger Prize, the DGPT honours deserving personalities in plasma research. Dr. Anke Dalke, Chairwoman of the Board of the German Society for Plasma Technology and researcher at the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg comments: "Professor Jürgen Röpcke has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of reactive plasmas with his work on laser absorption spectroscopy and has opened up completely new options for the understanding and control of plasma technological processes by means of plasma diagnostics."

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Weltmann, Chairman of the Board of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) comments: "We warmly congratulate Jürgen Röpcke on this well-deserved high distinction with the prestigious Rudolf Seeliger Prize. His contribution to plasma diagnostics has not only inspired our institute, but the entire scientific community in this field, and has made new insights possible."

Jürgen Röpcke studied physics at the University of Greifswald where he also completed his doctorate and habilitation. Since 1982, he has worked at the Central Institute for Electron Physics of the Academy of Sciences, from which today's Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) emerged in 1992. There he headed the Plasma Diagnostics Group from 2004. After his dissertation on discharge evolution in plasma displays, he worked on plasma diagnostics in diamond-depositing plasmas, spectroscopy in non-thermal hydrogen plasmas and absorption spectroscopy in the mid-infrared range, which enabled highly sensitive detection of plasma species for the first time. In 2005, he was appointed honorary professor at Stralsund University of Applied Sciences. As a founding managing director of the INP spin-off company neoplas control GmbH, he supported the transfer of quantum cascade laser technology from science to industry in the early years.

The prize is named after Rudolf Karl Hans Seeliger, a pioneer of gas discharge physics. Seeliger was a professor at the University of Greifswald from 1918 and headed the "Institute for Gas Discharge Physics" of the Academy of Sciences from 1949.

Further Information
Stefan Gerhardt // Communication Department
Tel.: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald //

Innovative technologies remove pharmaceutical residues from wastewater

Greifswald, 20 March 2023

Every year on 22 March, World Water Day reminds us of the importance of one of the most important resources of life. Almost two-thirds of our planet is covered with water, but not even three percent is drinkable freshwater. Every day, large quantities of chemicals enter our waters and endanger the health of humans, animals and plants. In addition to pesticides, for example, drug residues also pollute our drinking water. The Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) has developed technical solutions to clean wastewater of such pollutants. 

According to information from the German Federal Environment Agency, more than 400 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, their intermediates or transformation products have already been detected in the environment. Veterinary medicinal products end up as fertiliser on our fields via liquid manure and dung or are excreted by grazing animals. From there, they enter water bodies and groundwater near the surface. Human pharmaceuticals reach sewage treatment plants via wastewater, but are usually not removed there.

The German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies vfa points to the low concentration of pharmaceutical residues found in water. However, according to the association, one way to remove these residues would be to expand the sewage treatment technology currently in use so that pharmaceuticals do not end up in water bodies.

Innovative processes ensure clean water

Prof. Dr. Juergen Kolb, an expert in environmental technologies at the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP), explains the current state of research: "We combine classical physical processes for wastewater purification with new technologies such as ultrasound, pulsed electric fields and plasma technology. This allows us to break down chemical compounds such as drug residues but also other man-made contaminants and convert them into harmless substances."

These methods have already proven their potential in various INP research projects. Currently, the approaches are being transferred to practice-relevant environments. "Our approach is currently mobile plants that can be used in hospitals, for example, where water contamination with pharmaceutical residues is particularly high. Particularly in view of the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, we see an acute need for action here," Kolb adds. The technologies are also suitable for municipal sewage treatment plants as a fourth purification stage.

World Water Day was established by the United Nations. It has taken place every year on 22 March since 1993. This year's motto is "Accelerating Change". Worldwide, actions take place on this day to draw attention to the vital importance of water and to support initiatives for clean water and the careful use of the resource. 

More information

Stefan Gerhardt // Communications
Phone.: +49 3834 554 3903 // E-Mail: stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2 // 17489 Greifswald // Germany //


Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology
Felix-Hausdorff-Str. 2
17489 Greifswald

Stefan Gerhardt

Tel.: +49 3834 - 554 3903
Fax: +49 3834 - 554 301