WEDECO - from Pioneer to Global Brand

WEDECO - from Pioneer to Global Brand

The WEDECO success story began 1975 with the formation of WEDECO Gesellschaft für Entkeimungsanlagen mbH and the establishment of the first small production facilities in Herford, Germany. From the very beginning, the company’s business policy was shaped by the vision of chemical-free and environmentally friendly water treatment.

UV disinfection as an object of research

Since the early 1970s, various research groups were looking into the disinfection of water using UV light. In Munich, Dr. K. Scherb, the head of chemical research at the Munich-based Bavarian Biological Research Institute (Bayerische Biologische Versuchsanstalt), was investigating the use of UV technology in the disinfection of wastewater at the wastewater testing grounds at Grosslappen, Germany. The findings of his experiments were so promising that Dr. K. Scherb predicted a great future for UV wastewater disinfection.

Production 1976

WEDECO Gesellschaft für Entkeimungsanlagen mbH, Germany

Werner Klink and Horst Wedekamp had followed this research very closely. On July 14, 1976, they founded WEDECO Gesellschaft für Entkeimungsanlagen mbH. The production and marketing of the first UV water disinfection systems began on a small scale with six employees.

UV water disinfection for zoological parks

WEDECO systems were used in a wide variety of applications, such as disinfection of aquarium pool and exhibit water in zoological parks. The Duisburg Zoo, the Löbbeke Museum in Düsseldorf and later the Aquazoo used UV light early on to disinfect water in their aquatic exhibits.

E type series
German "Seeberufsgenossenschaft" grants approval

In the mid-1970s, WEDECO worked together closely with the "Seeberufsgenossenschaft" (Professional Association of Seafearers) in Hamburg. In 1976 the organization launched an extensive investigation into UV disinfection of potable and non-potable water on ships.

The results were positive, and WEDECO was granted the first official certificate in the company’s history for the E type series UV disinfection systems.


UV sensor

To ensure sufficient disinfection, the UV dose generated by UV lamps in the water must achieve a sufficiently high level. This is monitored using UV sensors. In the late 1970s, WEDECO technicians developed a UV sensor for commercial use that was sufficiently sensitive in the wavelength range of the UV radiation generated for disinfection.

UV amalgam lamp
amalgam lamp

The next and certainly the most important milestone in WEDECO UV technology dates back to the end of the 1970s. At this time, WEDECO began developing a special lamp for potable water supply on trains. Inspired by the positive results being achieved by UV systems on ships, the German Federal Railway launched an investigation into the possible use of UV water disinfection in trains. There was a particular problem that needed to be solved: the large fluctuations in temperature of on-board water storage tanks. The UV lamps available on the market at the time experienced a drastic deterioration in performance at temperatures of more than 105°F. A lamp that was virtually insensitive to temperature had to be developed. In close cooperation with prominent manufacturers of UV lamps, Horst Wedekamp developed a new type of UV lamp, which was later taken from prototype to production readiness by Josef Pirkel from the quartz lamp factory Dr. Ing. Felix Müller GmbH & Co. KG in Essen. This lamp was the low pressure high output (Lo-Hi) amalgam lamp, and would later form the core of all WEDECO systems under the brand name Spektrotherm®.


Cooperation with the Bremen Institute of Hygiene

In the early 1980s, a milestone for public acceptance of UV water disinfection of drinking water was the start of a cooperation with the Institute of Hygiene at the Hanseatic City of Bremen. At the time, Dr. Gängel, the director of the Institute, was conducting experiments on disinfection of the water supply in the administration and laboratory building. In the past, routine investigations of the water supply had repeatedly established that the bacteria count was too high. These biological impurities were effectively removed eliminated by the use of UV systems.

First current-controlled frequency converter

WEDECO ozone systems are controlled today at frequencies of up to 1,000 Hertz.  In the past, however, converters available on the market could not generate this frequency, which resulted in WEDECO developing its own converter technology.

WEDECO ozone electrode

First WEDECO ozone electrode

In 1988, WEDECO began working with ozone. It developed the unique, patented small diameter hexagonal ozone electrode, the core of which consisted of a six-sided metal rod set in a quartz borosilicate glass dielectric tube. This ozone electrode was first fitted in small ozone systems. One of the first systems for treating drinking water for the Ostheim, Germany community produced 8 lbs/day of ozone from atmospheric oxygen.

First BMFT Special Research Program

UV disinfection of drinking water was already well established in some European countries, though not in Germany. The Norwegian city Stord installed a WEDECO UV system for disinfecting drinking water in 1977. In Germany, however, there was little acceptance of this new technology. As a result of many submissions and discussions initiated by prominent research institutes and UV equipment manufacturers, the German Federal Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT) launched an ambitious network research program in 1988. The objective of this was to systematically research the yet unanswered questions regarding the use of UV light to disinfect drinking water. Presided over by Professor Heinz Bernhardt, this was the genesis of the First BMFT Research Project: "Investigation into the hygienic safety of drinking water disinfection with UV radiation”. Not all the issues were dealt with conclusively, and so it was agreed to continue the investigations in a second BMFT project.

1989 - 1991

International expansion

Between 1989 and 1991, WEDECO established subsidiaries in the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, France and Switzerland to tap these markets with their own sales and service personnel.

Second BMFT Special Research Program

Building on the findings of the first project, the second BMFT Project provided a further scientific basis for the safe use of UV disinfection in drinking water treatment.

1992 – 1994

Digital system control for ozone production

From 1992 to 1994, decisive work was carried out to improve the performance and control of smooth ozone production. The development and launch of a digital control system guaranteed a more efficient operation of WEDECO ozone generators.

Joint Venture in Great Britain

In order to tap the UV wastewater markets in Great Britain, WEDECO entered into a joint venture with a Manchester-based company in 1994. In just a few years it became the market leader in the British UV wastewater market. In 1996, WEDECO acquired its partner’s shares in the joint venture.

First UV sensor
Daylight-blind UV sensor

In order to use UV technology in open wastewater channels, WEDECO engineers developed a daylight-blind UV sensor, which allows smooth continuous operation of UV systems in wastewater without special filter technology.

First UV wastewater disinfection systems

At the beginning of the 1990s, the first WEDECO UV wastewater disinfection systems were installed in the German City of Grömitz and in Baldwin, Florida, USA. Demand for WEDECO systems rose steadily in the following years; one milestone was the UV system in Tywyn, Wales, UK. Over the next few years, many large European coastal towns improved the quality of their coastal waters in line with the recently adopted European Bathing Water Directive, which had been passed by this time.

WEDECO optimizes UV lamps with electronic power supply and control devices

WEDECO developed an electronic power supply and control device that improves the overall performance of lamps while significantly reducing energy requirements. This reduces life cycle costs for customers, a key competitive advantage over substitute disinfection methods. WEDECO is the only manufacturer to date to produce this specially patented control device.


Development of EFFIZON® electrode

A milestone in the company’s history was the development of a fundamentally new principle of ozone generation using the EFFIZON® electrode. This patented electrode significantly reduced the cost of ozone generation by allowing substantially higher ozone concentrations to be produced from smaller, more cost-effective ozone generators.

First large EFFIZON® system
First large EFFIZON® system

In September 1995, the first large system fitted with EFFIZON® electrodes was supplied to the German city Düsseldorf. These waterworks provide large parts of Düsseldorf with drinking water that was supplied from Rhine river bank filtrate. Today, all of Düsseldorf’s drinking water plants are fitted with WEDEOCO ozone systems.


DVGW certification for UV systems

WEDECO recognized early on the need to have the functionality of its UV systems documented by an internationally recognized certification. Therefore, in early 1996, WEDECO participated in the development of the German Association for Gas and Water (DVGW) certification body in Bonn, Germany, whose test standards are now recognized around the world.

WEDECO Gesellschaft für Umwelttechnologie mbH, Germany

In 1996, the WEDECO Gesellschaft für Umwelttechnologie mbH, in which all the company’s ozone activities are bundled, was formed. From its facilities in Herford, it markets ozone systems of all sizes for a range of applications – and is now the world market leader in this field.


WEDECO Technologie Ochrony Srodowiska Sp. z o.o., Poland
The formation of the Polish WEDECO subsidiary in Posen marks one of WEDECO’s early first foray’s into the Eastern European market.


Also in 1997, WEDECO acquired PCI Environmental Technologies, Inc., based in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Its product range was quickly converted to WEDECO EFFIZON® technology. In 2003, its headquarters and manufacturing facilities were relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina.


WEDECO and KATADYN merge their UV activities

In June 1999, both companies made the strategic decision to combine the UV activities of WEDECO with those of KATADYN. KATADYN companies in Switzerland, Germany and France were merged with WEDECO companies in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Poland and Switzerland, and were supplemented by the global sales networks of both companies. Thus, the European market leader in UV disinfection was created under the parent company WEDECO AG Water Technology. KATADYN was founded in Switzerland in 1928, and had successes in drinking water treatment with methods using filtration, silver ions and UV disinfection. The merger signified the joining of Europe’s two pioneers in UV water disinfection.

IPO of WEDECO AG Water Technology
IPO of WEDECO AG Water Technology

On October 26, 1999, WEDECO AG was admitted to the SMAX segment on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. A total of 4.5 million shares were offered on the capital market at a price of EUR 7.80 per share. Proceeds from the IPO were used to finance WEDECO’s strategic acquisitions in its core markets, and to further extend its technological leadership.


Greater growth through acquisitions

In the first year after the IPO, WEDECO increased its market presence in the US by purchasing a UV company, Ideal Horizons, Inc., Poultney, Vermont, USA. In Austria VISA UV-Technologie GmbH in Seewalchen am Attersee was also acquired. In Great Britain – a key European market for WEDECO – the company consolidated its already strong position with the acquisition of UV Systems plc., Sudbury. By merging its operation with its second existing British subsidiary, WEDECO Ltd. in Manchester, WEDECO achieved UV market leadership in Great Britain. – one of the most important UV markets in Europe.

The next acquisition took place in Spain where the Company first bought the Madrid-based Rex Ibérica S.A., which was then also merged with WEDECO’s existing second Madrid-based subsidiary, Tecnologia Ambiental WEDECO S.A., to form WEDECO Rex S.A. By acquiring Puro srl., Parma, and establishing its own subsidiary Wedeco Tecnologie Aque srl. in Bari, WEDECO also took up a significant position at the forefront of the important Italian market.

Admittance of WEDECO shares to SDAX

On March 20, 2000, WEDECO’s shares were admitted to the SDAX segment, an index for Germany’s top 100 listed small and medium entities.

AWWA investigates Cryptosporidia

For decades, people in the USA trusted in drinking water disinfection using chlorine alone. It was not until the drinking water supply of Milwaukee, Wisconson, a city with a regional population of several million, experienced a dramatic and deadly outbreak of parasites in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of people were affected and several hundred died as a result of the infection and the USA also began to rethink its policy. New evidence showed that chlorination alone did not offer sufficient protection against these organisms, and the path was cleared for alternative water treatment methods. In 2000, WEDECO participated in an American Water Works Association (AWWA) sponsored program that investigated the effectiveness of several UV systems on Cryptosporidia in large UV drinking water systems. The results were convincing. The subsequent public report boosted sales of UV drinking water disinfection systems in the USA.

UV lamp development and production

Own UV lamp development and production

On February 15, 2001, WEDECO acquired the production and development of UV lamps by purchasing the quartz lamp factory Dr. Felix Müller GmbH in Essen. WEDECO had previously enjoyed many years of exclusive cooperation with this company in the development and production of low pressure high output UV lamps. With this acquisition, WEDECO became the world’s only manufacturer of UV devices with its own leading edge UV lamp production and technology development capability.

Further acquisitions

In 2001, WEDECO focused its expansion in Asia and the Pacific. WEDECO also became the market leader in New Zealand by acquiring Water and Waste Treatment NZ Ltd. In Korea Sung Jin Entech Corporation in Seoul was purchased. The acquisition of Australian Ultra Violet Products operated from that point on as WEDECO AVP Pty. Ltd., gave the company a foothold on the fifth continent.

At the second German-Chinese High Technology Dialog Forum in Peking, the company signed a declaration of intent for a joint venture with Chongqing Kangda Environmental Protection Inc. in the presence of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. The company that was later founded, WEDECO-Kangda, provided WEDECO with access to the Chinese market for ultraviolet drinking water and wastewater disinfection.

Shortly before the year end of the year, WEDECO formed a company in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which operates as the South American head office, supporting existing agents in South and Central America.

Capital increase

In spring 2001, WEDECO performed a capital increase to finance its successful expansion strategy. A total of 995,000 shares were issued.

First multi-barrier system
First multi-barrier system

Methods combining membrane filtration, chlorination, UV disinfection and ozone oxidation are becoming increasingly important for drinking water treatment. This combination of methods, known by experts as a "multi-barrier” design, offers comprehensive, safe and economically viable drinking water treatment. WEDECO’s first large system of this type was ordered by the North American Weber Basin Water Conservancy District in Utah in May 2001. A key component of this overall system is a major UV disinfection level with up-stream ozone oxidation.

Development of EFFIZON® HP

In 2001, another leap forward in technology was achieved through the introduction of the enhanced new EFFIZON® HP ozone electrode, which allows even greater efficiency in ozone generation.

Admission of WEDECO shares to the MDAX

One year after being listed on the SDAX, WEDECO shares are admitted to the MDAX on September 18, 2001.


New generation of UV lamps

In October 2002, WEDECO launched the new Spektrotherm® HP lamp on the market. This low pressure high output lamp is result of many years of development, with the aim of further reducing the total cost of UV disinfection.


Trailigaz, France

In spring 2003, Veolia Water Systems, formerly Vivendi Water Systems, contributed its subsidiary Trailigaz to WEDECO’s ozone division. In return, Veolia received a 15.2% interest in WEDECO’s ozone division. Trailigaz is the world’s third-largest manufacturer of ozone systems. Many ozone systems for the drinking water treatment systems of major cities are supplied by Trailigaz, such as Paris, London, Madrid, Prague, Moscow, Tokyo, Sydney, San Francisco and Singapore.

Admission of WEDECO shares to TecDAX

Following the restructuring of German share indices on March 24, 2003, WEDECO AG shares have been listed in the TecDAX technology segment.

ITT Industries makes takeover offer

On December 9, ITT Industries initiated the public offer for WEDECO it had announced on November 11 through its wholly owned subsidiary ITT Industries German Holding GmbH. ITT offered WEDECO shareholders EUR 18 in cash for each WEDECO share.


ITT Industries takes over the WEDECO AG and 100% of the WEDECO shares. ITT thus expands its international position in the sector of water treatment decisively. The term WEDECO continues to adorn each UV and ozone installation produced.

WEDECO Spektron

With WEDECO Spektron, a new generation of UV installations for the disinfection of drinking water is developed and introduced. The efficiency is improved radically using state-of-the-art flow simulations. One result is the development and patenting of a CrossMix module for the optimization of flow characteristics inside the UV radiation chamber.


WEDECO becomes part of ITT Water & Wastewater

With the reorganization of the brand structure within ITT Fluid Technology, a new umbrella brand is created, which also includes WEDECO. ITT Water & Wastewater has combined the leading product brands of Flygt, Leopold, Sanitaire and WEDECO under one roof of a common sales organisation. The recreated company thus becomes world market leader in transport and treatment of drinking water and wastewater and is present in more than 140 countries. More than 5,800 employees work in over 40 sales establishments and in production facilities in Europe and China as well as in North and South America.


The two companies based at the location in Herford, WEDECO AG (UV division) and ITT-WEDECO GmbH (ozone division), merge to become ITT Water & Wastewater Herford AG. The organization continues to develop and produce UV and ozone installations for the global market from Herford. The name WEDECO is still used as a product brand and has now been firmly established for 34 years in the drinking and wastewater industry.