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The expansion of existing infrastructure cannot accompany the rate of population growth in a linear fashion, particularly in urban areas. The sewage system poses a technical bottleneck, both in terms of capacity and in terms of efficient removal of nutrients, hormones, medical residues and antibiotics. LAUFEN is convinced that the solution lies in circular concepts that treat each type of waste streams as a valuable resource, rather than something to be discarded.

To that end, LAUFEN is currently supporting two research projects, one in Belgium and one in the United Kingdom. The first one is led by Hydrohm in partnership with the Gent University and the City of Gent. Hydrohm developed a treatment process that captures phosphorus, nitrogen and salt from urine and processes the liquid into disinfecting flush water for toilets. With the support of the city of Ghent, a container will be converted into a public toilet, equipped with LAUFEN save! toilets and urinals, as well as Hydrohm’s treatment system. The installation will be located at the Blaarmeersen sports and recreation park over the summer months, where Hydrohm and Gent University will monitor the performance of their treatment system.

The second project is a cooperation between Newcastle University and Northumbria University to create the world's first Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE), with the support of Research England's Expanding Excellence in England programme. The collaboration of architects, e and bio-scientists with industry aims to develop a completely new concept of how buildings will be designed and constructed in the future. Their goal, according to Professor Gary Black, Professor in Protein Biochemistry at Northumbria University and Hub Co-Director, is “to use the very latest biotechnologies to create living homes that are responsive to, and protective of their environment and the people who live in them.”