Removal of Triton X-100 from Pharmaceutical Wastewater

The Background

Triton X-100 (TX-100) is a non-ionic surfactant with various uses in the pharmaceutical industry, including for cleaning and as an ingredient in some medicinal products.

Due to potential endocrine disrupting properties, the substance has been placed into Annex XIV of the REACH regulation. This means that it cannot be used or placed on the market after the “sunset date” which is expected to be in late 2020, unless specific authorisation is granted.

This regulatory amend has encouraged users of TX-100 to investigate options to fully remove it from wastewater to prevent its release into the sewer or aquatic environment. Proof of its effective destruction from effluent may lead to authorisation being given for its continued use, even following its “sunset date”.

A method currently adopted for the management of contaminated water is thermal oxidation. This process involves the water being collected and trucked off to a third-party specialist to be incinerated – a very expensive process with negative environmental implications.

This has led to pharmaceutical facilities looking for onsite wastewater treatment alternatives which are lower maintenance, as well as more cost-effective and sustainable.

Additional benefits for onsite treatment include complete traceability of hazardous waste for audit purposes and retaining complete control over compliance with upcoming legislation.

The Project

The aim of this experiment was to study the ability of the Nyex™-a system to destroy TX-100 from an aqueous solution to as low concentration as possible.

Adsorption studies were carried out prior to the trial in order to evaluate the ability of TX-100 to adsorb onto Nyex media, which were successful. Regeneration experiments were then conducted using a Nyex™ 1-20a to evaluate its effectiveness in destroying the TX-100.

HPLC analysis was carried out on each sample to determine the concentrations of TX-100, starting from 16 mg/L. Experiments were conducted in a re-circulation mode and sampled from the container.

The Solution

Arvia’s Nyex™-a system was deployed against this application. This process combines adsorption with electrochemical oxidation in a single, scalable unit. Organic contamination is preferentially adsorbed, localising it onto the surface of the carbon-based Nyex™ media. A low electrical current is then passed through the media bed which fully mineralises the adsorbed contaminants to H₂O, H₂ and CO₂. The electrical current simultaneously regenerates the surface of the media in-situ, allowing for further adsorption and treatment without interruption or incineration.

Results are achieved without chemical dosing or the generation of sludge reducing costs in terms of labour, transport of chemicals and specialist waste disposal.

The Results

Figure 1 (left) shows the treatment profile for the experiment using a Nyex™ 1-20a system.

Removal from 16 mg/L was demonstrated and once a reduction to 2 mg/L was reached, the sample was spiked back to 12 mg/L and the trial continued. This was to demonstrate that the process does not only adsorb but continues to mineralise the TX-100 substance.

The experiment above shows that is possible to reduce the concentration of TX-100 in aqueous solutions using the Nyex™ process.

Arvia are continuing to work with several pharmaceutical facilities that use TX-100 in their daily activities to ensure that treatment is optimised to be as cost-effective as possible.

The team have extensive experience in removing problematic substances to ensure the avoidance of regulatory breaches and fines.

For more information on TX-100 treatment, please reach out to one of our Project Engineers on +44 (0)1928 515 329.

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Arvia Technology Ltd

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