acwa – Aachen Wasser

The Institute of Environmental Engineering of RWTH Aachen University (ISA), the Research Institute for Water Management and Climate Future at RWTH Aachen University (FiW) and the Development and Assessment Institute in Waste Water Technology at RWTH Aachen University (PIA) are working together under the name acwa (Aachen Wasser).

Information Main areas of activity contact person

The Institute of Environmental Engineering of RWTH Aachen University

The ISA – Institute of Environmental Engineering was founded in 1966 and stands for high-quality teaching at RWTH Aachen University as well as excellent research in water management and environmental technology.

The Chair of of Environmental Engineering and the Institute of Environmental Engineering (ISA) under the direction of Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Thomas Wintgens have been active in the service of environmental and water protection at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at RWTH for many years.

The diverse research and development work at the ISA is carried out by around 30 scientific staff in interdisciplinary co-operation. The expertise of our scientific staff covers the disciplines of civil engineering, process engineering, environmental engineering, ecotoxicology, biotechnology and chemistry.

The μ3 research centre of the ISA on the grounds of the Aachen-Soers wastewater treatment plant offers the unique advantage of being able to carry out investigations on all scales in the pilot plant (laboratory and semi-technical) as well as on the wastewater treatment plant (large-scale). The technical centre enables the use of all relevant wastewater partial flows for the test operation. The modern environmental analysis laboratory is characterised by a wide range of modern analytical equipment for the determination of nutrients and sum parameters as well as inorganic and organic trace and ultra-trace substances. The portfolio is supplemented by microbiological, ecotoxicological and wastewater-specific biological testing options.

The scientific work is supported by around 20 employees from the laboratory, workshop, IT, administration and organisation departments as well as numerous student employees.

The ISA conducts theoretical and practical studies on all topics related to urban water management, including all the scientific activities of a university institute such as concept development, modelling, evaluation and optimisation. The clients are public research funding organisations, water management companies (associations) and local authorities as well as industry.

The Institute of Environmental Engineering of RWTH Aachen University

  • Urban drainage / water in the city
  • (Advanced) wastewater treatment
  • Particulate pollutants and trace substances
  • Resource management / Phosphorus recovery
  • Drinking water
  • Water reuse
  • Water quality management
  • Environmental analysis

The Institute of Environmental Engineering of RWTH Aachen University

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil.
Thomas Wintgens
Institute Director

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Information Main areas of activity contact persons

Research Institute for Water Management and Climate Future at RWTH Aachen University (FiW)

FiW is the transfer institute for research and consultancy services in the field of water management. We work on solutions for the major challenges of our time: water, climate, energy and resources. As a non-profit organisation and affiliated institute of RWTH Aachen University, we transfer research results into practical applications and offer individual consulting services.

Research. Transfer. Sustainability. By developing long-term strategies and innovative processes, we contribute to the sustainability of water management in order to master the upcoming challenges for water quantity and water quality, even in times of climate change.

We provide our services in the fields of environmental process & energy technology, water management and international cooperation – with a team of more than 40 employees, a strong partner network and an annual turnover of around EUR 4 million.

We support the water industry in particular in coping with the dual key role of shouldering climate impact adaptation and at the same time becoming a driver of the sustainability economy towards energy efficiency, climate neutrality, material cycles, digitalisation and a predestined location for the market ramp-up of the hydrogen economy.

The products of our work are new solution approaches, feasibility studies & recommendations for action as well as product development & process optimisation along the ‘technology readiness level’ from the laboratory to prototypes and market maturity to large-scale implementation. Coming from the user side, we initiate and coordinate project developments, moderate dialogue projects with actors and stakeholders and develop tailor-made solutions in international cooperation with partners from emerging and developing countries.

We are convinced that the pressing challenges of our time must be considered globally and solved locally with knowledge-based decisions, sustainable strategies, innovative technologies, public services, commitment and participation so that the next generations can also take over clean water, necessary resources and an environment worth living in.

As a member of the JRF research community, FiW is institutionally funded by the state of NRW. The FiW supporting organisation is made up of special statutory water associations, municipal drainage companies, utility companies, planning offices, RWTH Aachen University and personal members. We want to create value – for business, politics, science and society.

Research Institute for Water Management and Climate Future at RWTH Aachen University (FiW)

  • Wastewater
  • Energy
  • Circular economy
  • Water management
  • Digitalization
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Resource efficiency
  • Sustainable development
  • Education & Training
  • Water tariffs

Research Institute for Water Management and Climate Future at RWTH Aachen University (FiW)

Dr. sc. Dipl.-Ing.
Frank-Andreas Weber

Natalie Palm

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Information Main areas of activity contact persons

Development and Assessment Institute in Waste Water Technology at RWTH Aachen University (PIA)

The PIA – Development and Assessment Institute in Waste Water Technology at RWTH Aachen University was founded as a non-profit association with the aim of researching and promoting decentralized wastewater technology in particular and fulfilling the testing mandate for the German, European and worldwide certification of wastewater treatment systems.

Since PIA was founded in 1999, its activities have focused on all measures that serve to test and develop application-related processes in the fields of wastewater treatment and environmental protection. This includes the necessary examinations of new and the assessment of already established systems, technologies and concepts.

The PIA – Prüfinstitut für Abwassertechnik GmbH was founded as a subsidiary and testing facility of the PIA e.V. in order to separate the commercial part of the business operations from the association. PIA GmbH is recognized as a testing body for small wastewater treatment plants (EN 12566) and wastewater lifting stations (EN 12050) in accordance with the EU Construction Products Regulation and is listed as a Notified Body with the identification number 1739 in the lists of the European Union. In addition to this European recognition, PIA GmbH is accredited for the testing of small wastewater treatment plants in accordance with the American standards NSF/ANSI 40, NSF/ANSI 245 and for the testing of water reuse systems in accordance with NSF/ANSI 350. Tests are also offered in accordance with the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1546.

In the maritime environmental technology sector, PIA GmbH is approved for testing in accordance with the IMO MARPOL 73/78 convention. The tests carried out on systems for waste water treatment, bilge water treatment and ballast water treatment are internationally recognized by classification societies, flag states and the US Coast Guard.

PIA GmbH is accredited in accordance with DIN EN ISO 17025 for its testing activities and is a recognized testing laboratory for drinking water. PIA is a globally recognized partner for testing, inspections and certifications in the wastewater sector on land and at sea.

Development and Assessment Institute in Waste Water Technology at RWTH Aachen University (PIA)

  • Decentralized wastewater treatment
  • Inland and oceangoing shipping
  • Certification & approval tests
  • Accredited laboratory according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025
  • Testing laboratory according to drinking water ordinance
  • Pilot and large-scale testing
  • Expert assessment
  • Education and training

Development and Assessment Institute in Waste Water Technology at RWTH Aachen University (PIA)

Markus Joswig
Managing Director

Arndt Kaiser
Research & Development

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Range of services

acwa’s range of services includes basic research, applied research and scientific support in the fields of urban drainage, wastewater treatment, energy optimisation and provision, water reuse, water management and waste and resource management. In addition, all three institutes offer a wide range of services for associations, local authorities and industrial companies, ranging from practical applications such as approval tests for wastewater treatment plants, laboratory analyses and flow measurements to organisational consulting and technology transfer in Germany and abroad.

Conference expertise Equipment

Conference expertise

A traditional speciality of the Aachen institutes is their distinctive conference expertise. The Essen Conference on Water Management, which attracts up to 1,000 participants every year, offers an excellent platform for knowledge transfer and networking between practitioners, researchers and administrators.

The biennial Aachen Water Technology Conference is another established process-orientated specialist event that deliberately includes English-language contributions. The Cologne Sewer and Sewage Treatment Plants Colloquium is aimed at users with a very practical focus and addresses current developments and problem solutions. In addition, the annual Aachen Colloquium for Waste and Resource Management examines a current waste management topic from various perspectives and underlines the expertise of the association in the field of resource management. Other conferences include the ‘International Symposium on Treatment of Wastewater and Waste on Ships (SOWOS)’ organised by the PIA and the FiW Forum for decision-makers from NRW organised by the FiW.


In conjunction with acwa, the three institutes have several test sites. In the μ3 research centre of the ISA, samples from the areas of water, sludge, waste, contaminated sites and soil can be tested for numerous chemical constituents and active parameters in the ISA’s laboratory, which is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, in addition to various cross-scale tests.

The PIA test site was built on the site of the former ‘Bildchen’ wastewater treatment plant of the city of Aachen and offers optimal conditions for testing decentralised wastewater treatment plants.

As a practice-oriented transfer institute, FiW develops, plans and operates semi-technical pilot plants and demonstrators (technology readiness levels TRL 5-7) and supports companies in the scale-up of customised solutions and optimisation during operation (TRL 8 and 9). Pilot plants are usually operated directly on site. This applies both to the plants in Germany and to robust mobile container solutions in international cooperation.

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