Technical Bulletin: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Treating Acetone, Acetonitrile, IPA & Methylene Chloride in Pharmaceutical Rinse Water

Axine Solution Benefits


Generates opex savings via Axine’s service model


Eliminates off-site trucking & incineration of wastewater


Eliminates ~400,000 lbs/yr of waste disposal


Automates & streamlines waste treatment system

Customer Pain Point

A US pharmaceutical manufacturing facility generates CIP wastewater contaminated with organic solvents including acetonitrile, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and methylene chloride. The total volume is approximately 50,000 gallons per year. It is currently drummed and trucked off-site for incineration. The plant wants to treat the wastewater on-site to reduce costs and risks by eliminating off-site trucking and incineration. In order to treat the stream on-site and discharge it to sewer, the methylene chloride and acetone need to be treated to meet EPA categorical limits of < 0.7 mg/L and < 8.2 mg/L, respectively. Axine was selected to perform treatability testing to verify the cost and performance of its technology to treat the solvents so the treated water can be safely discharged to sewer.

Axine pilot system at a customer site

Treatability Methodology

The facility shipped samples of CIP wastewater to Axine’s test facility. Axine technicians analyzed samples to establish the concentration of solvents, TDS, TSS and other parameters. Each sample was processed in Axine’s pilot system and the treated water was analyzed. Table 1 shows the wastewater composition before and after Axine treatment.

Treatment Results

As shown in Table 1, the starting concentration of methylene chloride was 1,700 mg/L, acetone was 2 mg/L, IPA was 1,000 mg/L and acetonitrile was 660 mg/L. Treatability testing verified successful oxidation and treatment of methylene chloride and acetone to the required levels necessary for discharge to sewer. Figure 1 below shows treatment reduction curves for COD, methylene chloride, IPA and acetone. As shown in the graph, the concentration of acetone initially increases and then decreases. This is because acetone is an intermediate by-product of IPA oxidation. As the IPA is oxidized, acetone is generated and subsequently eliminated via further oxidation of the wastewater. The ability of Axine’s technology to completely oxidize organic contaminants like IPA to trace gases is what differentiates it from other traditional oxidation approaches that only deliver partial oxidation.

Table 1 - Wastewater parameters and treatment results *Values indicate the analytical detection limits of these compounds


The treatability test successfully verified Axine’s capability to treat methylene chloride, acetonitrile, IPA and acetone in pharmaceutical CIP wastewater, so the treated water can safely be discharged to sewer. Adoption of Axine’s on-site treatment solution will enable the customer to generate immediate savings, streamline operations and eliminate off-site trucking and incineration.

Figure 1 - Treatment reduction curves for solvent concentrations before, during and after Axine treatment