Water Sustainability: Turning RO Reject Into A Resource At Biopharmaceutical Facilities
By Edward G. Helmig, Susan E. Gregg, PE, and Patrick J. Cyr, PE BCEE
This article illustrates why water sustainability is a critical component of site master planning, business continuity, and cost reduction programs. If this company had not been successful in reducing water consumption it could have impacted their business and ability to get life-saving medicines to market.
The article is a project synopsis summarizing the situation in which a major biopharmaceutical (vaccine manufacturing) facility was undergoing an expansion in a water-stressed region where there were regulatory restrictions and public pressure driving water use reduction. A water use reduction/reuse opportunity assessment was conducted followed by sampling, water quality analysis, and an engineering evaluation, including technical and economic aspects of water reuse.
As a result, opportunities were identified that could reduce water consumption at the facility by 25% and have a pay-back period of less than one year. One of the two opportunities was implemented and became a major contributor to the sustainability and positive community relations for the vaccine site. The second project is scheduled for implementation at a later date.
The primary raw material (by volume) used in the biopharmaceutical industry is water. Reliable, good quality source water is critical to the production of both generic and the latest generation of life-saving vaccines, antibiotics, and leading-edge, monoclonal antibody (mAb) type therapies. These products are generally produced by fermentation, extraction, purification, and other water-intensive processes.
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