Innovation: The HAMBURG WATER Cycle® in the Jenfelder Au

Last update: 17.08.2013
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Case studies in: 
use of waste as energy source‚ water quality improvement‚ waste water treatment‚ urban area‚ energy supply
Centralised energy and wastewater systems currently do not allow energy generation from sewage and in contrast, require considerable energy for the treatment of the black, grey and rain water.The HWC project is part of a new 35 ha real estate development, comprising some 700 apartments, of which 610 will take part in the project.

These apartments will be fitted with water-saving vacuum sanitation technology and separate wastewater collection, drainage and treatment systems. The black water stream will be used for energy generation. The grey and storm water streams will be treated separately using a new and simplifies approach.

“Unity in diversity” is the slogan selected to represent the social and environmental standards incorporated into the Jenfelder Au neighborhood, located in the eastern part of the city of Hamburg.


The Jenfelder Au will be the first neighborhood in Hamburg where the HAMBURG WATER Cycle will be incorporated into newly constructed buildings. Based on source control of wastewater, stormwater, greywater and blackwater are collected one by one and then treated separately on-site. This concept intends to establish synergy between wastewater management, waste management and energy production, and contributes to an improved local natural water cycle.

Additionally, the space-efficient development plan ensures affordable access to townhouses with gardens in Jenfeld. The individuality of the approximate 2,000 future residents is also not sacrificed. The award-wining concept, given to West 8, the city planners from the Netherlands, incorporates a variety of house and apartment styles with individual aspects which harmonize to form one neighborhood which truly manifests the motto, “unity in diversity”.
The project’s overall objective is to demonstrate the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of an integrated and decentralized wastewater disposal and energy generation system for an urban housing district in Hamburg, Germany.

The concept will bring together well-known technologies, as well as new and innovative prototypes – to be demonstrated for the first time on a large-scale. The system will be developed in different phases, in accordance with the different phases of construction.

Specific objectives are to:

- Demonstrate an integrated wastewater disposal and energy generation system;
- Minimise the dilution of sewage with drinking water (flush) by the use of vacuum toilets within an urban district;
- Promote water quality, i.e. preventing rain and grey water from being polluted with black water;
- Save energy by systematically treating and utilising separated wastewater streams. This will be done by preventing energy consuming wastewater processing;
- Demonstrate an innovative decentralised energy generation concept based on a biogas plant and a combined heat and power plant. The concept will demonstrate the potential to minimise the use of non-renewable energy sources and the potential for energy generation based on separation of black water;
- Prepare for future phosphorus and nitrogen recovery and effective elimination of micro pollutants such as pharmaceuticals.
The HAMBURG WATER Cycle will be carried out for the first time in a larger scale in the Jenfelder Au. There, the HWC will be implemented in approximately 610 residential units, making the development of a neighborhood with climate-neutral residences with sustainable water drainage possible. The project is unique in its size and value as an example to spur future innovation in urban development and planning. For these reasons, the Jenfelder Au is a pilot project of the “National Urban Development Policy” of the Federal Ministry of Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) and the Federal Institute of Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).

The HAMBURG WATER Cycle can vary on its scale of implementation. The most crucial feature is the separation of wastewater streams and the subsequent energy recovery from the wastewater. In the neighborhood of Jenfelder Au, a feature is added, rainwater, which extends the creative possibilities of urban- and landscape- planners.

In the open space design, rainwater becomes a creative element. The Jenfelder Au stormwater management concept decouples the rainwater flow from the sewer network, allowing the water to flow over the natural landscape back to the local waters. The landscape and urban planning concept is made possible through the use of open channels which allow rain to flow through streams and waterfalls to retention basins which are in the form of attractive ponds and lakes.
Thus, the appearance of the residential area is enhanced, and the flood protection is optimized as the retention basins are designed to provide further storage potential in case of heavy downpours.

The main expected result will be an innovative urban wastewater and energy system comprising:
- Approximately 1 000 vacuum toilets, and a vacuum pipe system, reducing water consumption by 7.3 m³/year per person, by vacuum toilet;
- A biogas combined heat and power generation plant, generating approximately 800 kWh/year per person;
- Overall, the target district will have the potential to save around 500 tonnes/year of CO2 equivalents and to be produce some 50% of its electricity demand locally.
The Three Loops Of The Hamburg Water Cycle Concept
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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: The HWC in the Jenfelder Au


01.09.2011 to 31.08.2017

on-going project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: SKAMBRAKS Anne-Katrin


Phone: +49-40 7888 2223