Pharmaceutical Waste Treatment by Anaerobic Filter

by Elliot F. Sachs, (A.M.ASCE), Project Engr.; Camp, Dresser, & McKee, New York, N.Y.,
J. Charles Jennett, (M.ASCE), Dean of Coll. of Engrg. and Prof. of Environmental Systems Engrg.; Clemson Univ., Clemson, S.C.,
Myrton C. Rand, Prof. of Civ. Engrg. and Environmental Sci.; Univ. of Alabama at Huntsville, Huntsville, Ala. 35899,

Serial Information: Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 2, Pg. 397-414

Document Type: Journal Paper


The anaerobic filter has been used on a laboratory scale to treat a variety of industrial wastewaters. The process was known to be effective at treating fermentation pharmaceutical wastes but synthesized organic chemical wastes were considered to be less amenable to treatment. Preliminary studies did indicate that the raw waste exhibited toxicity to both aerobic and anerobic organisms. This investigation dealt with analyzing the physical and chemical variations in the constituents of the pharmaceutical waste. By using laboratory scale models under conditions of controlled temperature, hydraulic loading and organic strength and using a waste feed composed of varying percentages of methanol and waste at a constant COD, it was possible to investigate the toxic effects of the waste on anaerobic digestion. The waste was found to be toxic but the filter could acclimate to it. Final results indicate that the anaerobic filter would treat the waste faster than the existing aerobic extended aeration system producing an effluent as good or better, and because of the methane generated would be an energy producer rather than a consumer.

Subject Headings: Waste treatment | Anaerobic processes | Chemical wastes | Recycling | Chemical treatment | Toxicity | Industrial wastes | Filters

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