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Excellent water quality for the food and beverage industry in Bremen

Research of Jacobs University confirms: The water used to produce the spirits is of the very best quality. (Source: Piekfeine Brände)


October 8, 2020
Most research in the Center for Resource & Environmental Studies at Jacobs University Bremen focuses on rocks, ore deposits and various environmental systems. From this basic research the team at Jacobs University has developed a convenient application that allows the beverage industry to evaluate the quality of the water used in their products and check for the presence of microcontaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

As part of a cooperation between Jacobs University and the Bremen based distillery Piekfeine Brände, a producer of spirits, Bremen’s water was examined for its rare earth content. (Source: Piekfeine Brände)

In collaboration with the Bremen based distillery "Piekfeine Brände", a producer of brandies, gin and whisky, the distribution of the rare earth elements in the water which is used during the different production steps, was determined and evaluated. The positive result: the water is of excellent quality. "If the water carries traces of pharmaceuticals, personal care products or other microcontaminants which enter the environment with the effluents from waste water treatment plants, then it also shows traces of the high-technology metal gadolinium which is used in contrast agents for MRI scans,"  explains Dr. Michael Bau, Professor of Geosciences at Jacobs University Bremen, who developed this new method together with his research team.
An anomalously high concentration of gadolinium compared to the other rare earth elements is an indicator that this water may also be contaminated by other substances that cannot be removed during waste water treatment. Besides contrast agents and pharmaceuticals, these are microcontaminants from personal care products and illegal drugs, for example.
"After having successfully tested this sensitive method in a study of softdrinks from fast-food restaurants, the cooperation with the ‘Piekfeine Brände’ distillery in Bremen gave us the opportunity to apply this convenient new high-tech method in another segment of the food and beverage industry," says Dr. Dennis Krämer, Postdoctoral Fellow in Geosciences at Jacobs University.
"We are extremely happy that Professor Bau could show that the water we use here in Bremen is of such excellent quality, and we appreciate the opportunity to work together with the team from Jacobs University," continues Birgitta Schulze van Loon, founder and owner of the “"Piekfeine Brände" distillery.
"The quality of tap water in Bremen with regard to waste water-derived (micro)contaminants is considerably better than that of tap water in other German cities such as Berlin, Munich or Dusseldorf,"  says Michael Bau. "Not only do Bremen citizens get clean tap water which is safe to drink, the excellent water quality also confirms that Bremen is a very attractive location for the food and beverage industry. And, of course, we can only applaude that a company like ‘Piekfeine Brände’ engages in proactive consumer protection."
Questions are answered by:
Prof. Dr. Michael Bau
Professor of Geosciences
Email: m.bau [at]