Pharmaceutical Wastewater Treatment

pharma Pharmaceutical  wastewater  streams  can  be  difficult  to  treat  with  conventional  physical/chemical and  biological  treatment  systems.  High  chemical oxygen  demand  (COD),  variable  strength  waste streams, and shock loads are just a few of the conditions that limit the effectiveness of these conventional systems.

 Physical/ chemical  systems  are  a  common  method of  treating  pharmaceutical  wastewater;  however, system  results  are  limited  due  to  high  sludge  production  and  relatively  low  efficiency  of  dissolved COD removal.

Biological aerobic treatment systems are also used extensively,  often  with  limited  success  due  to  the final clarification step. The clarifiers are susceptible to  sludge  bulking  and  variations  in  total  dissolved solids, often associated with batch process production,  which  can  cause  destabilization  of  bacterial floc formation, with a consequential loss of biomass in the final effluent. These systems require constant operator attention to adjust chemical dosing for the daily, even hourly changes in influent flow.

 Table 1. Composition of Pharmaceutical Wastewaters
Parameter Unit Chemical processes wastewaters Fermentation processes wastewaters
COD mg/l 375−32500 180−12380
BOD5 mg/l 200−6000 25−6000
TOC mg/l 860−4940 190−760
TKN mg/l 165−770 65.5−190
NH3−N mg/l 148−363 -
TDS mg/l 675−9320 1300−28000
pH - 3.9−9.2 3.3−11
TSS mg/l   57−7130
Conductivity μS/cm   1600−44850

Modular design of wastewater treatment plants and RO technology play a very important role while developing solutions to abate PhACs and EDCs industrial effluents. Reverse osmosis modules as tertiary treatment after a biological treatment stage.

The potential of reverse osmosis membranes to retain in their concentrate phase almost every dissolved substance (including monovalent ions), makes this technology a very suitable solution for final treatment of industrial effluents containing micro-pollutants. The main advantage of membrane technology is its wide field of application. As a technology based in a physical principle (filtration) it can be applied to separate many different substances from wastewater. Moreover, the optimal quality achieved by reverse osmosis permeate, makes this technology the keystone of every zero-discharge approach. Therefore permeate can be reused and thus contribute to reduce the overall water consumption (water footprint).