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Simplifying Water Treatment Process in Pharma

While water treatment in the pharmaceutical industry is a vast topic, it can be used as a blanket term to describe the large-scale industrial processes used to treat the water in ways that reduce its harmful impacts on the environment as effluent water resulting from pharma manufacturing processes can be a leading source of water pollution. The water treatment processes in the pharmaceutical industry depend on the desired end result. 

Sources of Water

In order to understand water treatments in the pharmaceutical industry, it is first essential to trace the different sources of water. Some of the most common sources of water are 

  • Ground Water – This is the naturally-occurring water that is found under the surface of the earth. It is usually rich in pathogens and dissolved solids. 
  • Lakes and Reservoirs – These are usually at the mouth of the river systems and are far from human habitation, which means they are considerably less contaminated.
  • Rivers, Canals, Low Land Reservoirs – This surface water has a heavy load of bacterial contaminants, suspended solids, and other foulants.

Importance of Industrial Water Treatment

A sound strategy for wastewater treatment in the pharmaceutical industry can help the on-site wastewater to become reusable, making the production process more environmentally friendly and mitigating public health concerns to a large extent. 

Lack of proper water treatment in the pharmaceutical industry may also lead to bacterial growth in piping systems, large-scale corrosion, which renders machinery useless, and expensive corrective measures.

Process of Water Treatment

Modern advancements in the field of technology have brought forth a host of processes that can be implemented in water treatment in the pharmaceutical industry to upgrade the quality of the water. Additionally, there are also tried and tested traditional methods that continue to exist. Depending on the use case of the end product and the capacity of the manufacturing plant, different companies adopt different water treatments. 

The water treatments in the pharmaceutical industry can be broadly divided into:

  • Physical Water Treatment Methods
  • Chemical Water Treatment Methods
  • Biological Water Treatment Methods

Physical Water Treatment Methods

Physical methods of water treatment usually consist of different screens and filters through which the water is passed. It is efficient in getting rid of the larger suspended particles in the water and is used in the initial stages of water purification. Some of the most commonly used physical water treatment methods are:

  • Sedimentation also known as Clarification: This process takes place in sedimentation tanks and is used to remove solids that float in the water by using the principle of gravity.
  • Screening: This process uses coarse, fine, or micro screens to trap the solid contaminants in the water.
  • Aeration: During aeration, a large quantity of air is passed through the water and then let out using vents which cause dissolved gases and volatile compounds to release from the water. It is very effective in getting rid of pollutants such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, etc.
  • Filtration: This involves using screens, sand filtration, or a cross-flow filtration membrane to eliminate larger suspended solids in the water.
  • Flotation & Skimming: Floating matter, such as paper, gravel, etc., are removed from the water using screens, while a skimming chamber is used to remove oil, fats, and grease that may be present in the water.
  • Degasification: A variety of degasification processes are employed to remove dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide in the water.
  • Equalization: The process of equalization is used to control high-volume flow called surges using screens. An increased hydraulic flow rate may hinder the efficacy of the treatment procedures.

Chemical Water Treatment Methods

Chemical water treatment refers to using chemical agents to eliminate specific foulants from the water that cannot be tackled by physical methods and is usually a secondary method. Some of the most commonly used chemical methods are:

  • Chlorination: Adding chlorine or chlorine compounds to the water is called chlorination. It is a strong oxidizing agent and effective in killing microorganisms in the water.
  • Ozonation: Yet another strong oxidizing agent, ozone, is used in this process to remove water-borne organisms. An added advantage of ozonation is zero residues in the treated water.
  • Neutralization: During neutralization, an acid or base is added to the water to stabilize the pH and bring it back to neutral.
  • Coagulation: For coagulation, polyvalent metals are added to the water to form an insoluble end product that removes substances from the wastewater.

Biological Water Treatment Methods

Biological methods use microorganisms, typically bacteria, to facilitate biochemical decomposition in wastewater. Based on the availability of dissolved oxygen, they can be classified into aerobic or anaerobic methods. 

Aerobic treatment uses oxygen to bring together organic matter and pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorous into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Anaerobic treatment breaks down inorganic impurities into carbon dioxide, methane, and biomass.

Some of the most important biological water treatment processes to note are:

  • Active Sludge Treatment Method: This process uses big multi-chamber reactors containing highly concentrated microorganisms that remove specific organic pollutants from the water.
  • Trickling Filtration: This is an aerobic method that uses microorganisms attached to a medium to eliminate organic impurities from wastewater, producing quality effluent.
  • Oxidation Ponds: For this process, large and shallow ponds of water, also called lagoons, are made to interact with the sunlight, algae, and bacteria to stabilize the wastewater.
  • Septic Tanks: Commonly used in municipal wastewater treatments, septic tanks are large unground structures that store the wastewater and use the principle of anaerobic digestion and settling to remove solids and organic impurities in the water.

TSA Water systems is a pioneer in designing, manufacturing, and installing pure water systems in India. Operating out of Mumbai and with more than a decade of experience under our belt, we have acquired some of the most talented and skilled personnel and engineers to deliver over and above our customer’s expectations. We have amassed extensive market knowledge of the various regulatory requirements. 

All these factors have together contributed to making TSA the preferred partner for designing and setting up pure water systems for pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in India. We enable our partners to achieve their optimal level of productivity and support them to reach the lowest cost per litre.

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