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Ecotechnology Research Group


Ecological Engineering is an approach to design and planning that uses insights from ecology as paradigm for problem solving. Its main elements are ecological principles and processes, (eco-) systems and thorough systems thinking combined with an engineering mindset.


In our work, we promote the sustainable use of natural resources, both through research and the development of technologies and concepts that are in line with the principles of Ecological Engineering. We develop sustainable solutions, with a focus on reusing water, nutrients, and biomass resources, considering avoidance and eliminate of pollutants. We focus on all aspects of the anthroposphere, particularly on the interface between agriculture and buildings.

Teaching offer

Our research has an impact on a wide range of courses on offer at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences. You can specialize in our research focus areas for your semester, bachelor's or master's thesis on the basis of exciting research questions.

MOOC Aquaponics – the circular food production system

Aquaponics is a polyculture that combines aquaculture and hydroponics, i.e. fish farming and soil-independent food production, in a recirculating system. The aim is to recycle nutrients from fish farming wastewater for plant production. In this Massive Online Open Course at the ZHAW, you will learn about the key points of aquaponics and how to plan and design such a sustainable production system. In the six-week course with a workload of 4-6 hours per week, you will learn the basics of aquaculture, hydroponics and aquaponics. The programme includes learning videos, course literature, practical exercises, individual work and quizzes. In addition, participants can exchange ideas with aquaponics enthusiasts from all over the world in forum contributions and discussions. Interested parties have the opportunity to participate in the MOOC course free of charge and, if they are interested, to obtain a certificate for successful course participation.

The MOOC Aquaponics is offered twice a year as a self-paced course.
Course duration: 6 weeks à 4-6h/week in the period from 20 September 2021 to 21 February 2022

Eco-Tech Demo Object (MODO)

Our research group has developed a mobile eco-tech demo unit «MODO», which serves as a demonstration and research facility for eco-technologies and new sanitation systems on the Grüental Campus. MODO is a washroom facility which is self-sufficient in terms of both energy and water in that it produces its own energy and cleans polluted water in a container, making it available for reuse. The wastewater from the washing machine (grey water) is circulated.

As part of the topic «water-autonomous washing cycle» (LaundReCycle), you have the possibility to write a Master's thesis on the optimisation of various operating parameters:

  • System cleaning performance
  • Microbiology in conjunction with cleaning performance
  • In-system germ elimination (hygiene)
  • Creating water and load balance
  • Concept development for handling of faeces
  • Coal pyrolysis made from faeces / value chains

Ecological Engineering Living Lab

With the project "Ecological Engineering Living Lab", research on recycling technologies can be experienced on the Grüental Campus. Visitors will gain an insight into the research activities of the researchers and the research facilities in the following areas:

  • Circular-flow washing machine "LaundReCycle"
  • Nutrient recovery in the WC: dry separation toilet and pyrolysis reactor
  • Urban Farming and Aquaponic
  • Sustainable fish farming in recirculating aquaculture systems
  • Microalgae and Photobioreactor
  • Food waste

The goal of these eco-technological plants is to close cycles for water and nutrients and to create new value-added chains in a circular economy. Visitors can discover the research facilities on the campus within the framework of guided and self-guided tours and become part of the research at the interface to the user. Through visitor feedback, the technologies can be further developed according to the needs of the users.

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