TU Berlin

Urban Water InterfacesResearch focus 1

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Research focus 1: Enhanced understanding of interface processes in natural and technical urban water systems

Complex and coupled flow, transport and biogeochemical reactions play key roles in the mass and heat transfer in and across urban interfaces. Such interfaces include (i) littoral areas of natural aquatic ecosystems where bank filtration occurs and contaminants are degraded (N5, N6, T6); (ii) sediments where contaminants and nutrients can be remobilised and greenhouse gases can be released (N3, N7, T4); (iii) water surfaces where water, gases and heat are exchanged with the atmosphere (N3, N4, T2, T3) and (iii) the interfaces between technical water treatment infrastructure and natural water bodies (T4); (iv) sewer pipes where volatile hydrogen sulfide is oxidised and corrosive sulphuric acid is produced (T2, T3); (v) paved surfaces which collect and contaminate rain water (N2, T1); (vi) solid technical and natural surfaces where sorption of contaminants occurs (T5); and (vii) aquatic biofilms degrading pollutants (N1).

The planned experiments and observations will be carried out on different scales including laboratory experiments (N1, T1, T2, T5, T6) and empirical studies at the field scale (N2, N3, N4, N5, N6, T1, T4). N5, T1 and T5 explicitly involve approaches to investigate scaling issues (see v, i, vi). Measurement techniques will be further developed (e.g. heat measurements to assess surface water–groundwater exchange in N6) and new kinetics will be determined (adsorption, desorption, degradation in N1, T5, T6). A unique pilot plant will give insight into the development of corrosion and odour in sewer systems (see iv) as a basis for designing countermeasures. The expected improved understanding of interface processes will contribute to practical applications such as improved ecosystem management, design and operation of technical infrastructure, and the interplay of both.

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