Ralf Otterpohl is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany.
Since 1998 he has been director of the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, which researches reuse-oriented sanitation concepts for both rural and urban contexts.
He won his doctorate in civil engineering at RWTH Aachen for research on mathematical modeling and computer simulation of large waste-water treatment plants.
Dr. Otterpohl is Chairman of ZERI (Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives) Deutschland, which views waste as a resource and seeks regenerative waste solutions inspired by nature's own design principles.
He is also co-owner of the consultancy Otterwasser GmbH, which specializes in innovative sanitation concepts, and co-founder and co-chair of the International Water Association specialist group, 'Resources Oriented Sanitation'.
Dr. Prof. Otterpohl's current research is focused on the rediscovery of Terra Preta Sanitation as it was practiced for thousands of years in the Amazon
considers this model for the conversion of bio-waste and human excreta, with the addition of biochar, into highly fertile soil, as the most successful system of waste management, sanitation and agriculture of all time.
has started to develop a social entrepreneur's network which promotes increased local productivity and water quality through soil improvement brought about by Terra Preta Sanitation enhanced by plant diversity and the application of permaculture principles.