Whether it saves lives or simply improves the quality of life for a patient, pharmaceutical product manufacturers know that perfection is the only option. After all, the product you’re making likely took more than a decade of testing and trials to even get where it is today. Now that it’s entered the manufacturing and production phase, there’s zero room for error.

Pollution Control Challenges for the Pharmaceutical Industry

With no room for error, you often think FDA first, EPA second, OSHA third. However, with the explosive nature that exists in the pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, failure to control the EPA side of things can quickly turn into failure to control the OSHA side.

Handling Batch and Continuous Operations

From the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients to the coating of tablets in ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, possibly the biggest danger for pharmaceutical manufacturers is the risk of explosion.

A result of combining batch and continuous operations at the same facility, VOC concentrations range from near-zero to dangerously excessive, depending on the point at which a product is being processed. This is a dangerous predicament—if the exhaust comes into contact with a heat source and enough oxygen, process exhaust runs the risk of explosion.

To address this, proper ventilation and airflow needs to be a top priority to keep process exhaust safe from explosion en route to destruction. For some processes, dilution is a necessity to get gases into a safe and non-explosive level. For others, the high-volume/low VOC concentration presents the other end of the spectrum.

Handling each of these in a cost-effective manner is necessary to minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Floor plans, data collection, and airflow management are each critical.

Controlling Corrosive Acids

In addition to the explosive nature of pharmaceutical manufacturing, some processes may result in corrosive acids in the process off-gas or in the post-combustion gases. In this case, pharmaceutical manufacturers will need to incorporate an acid-gas scrubber in combination with their pollution control equipment to collect and control this additional pollutant that can’t be destroyed by oxidation alone.

Data Collection and Software Controls

You can’t control what you can’t measure. With the nature of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, you need an accurate view of ventilation, concentrations, and controls. Timing is everything—move too early and you release too highly-concentrated exhaust air. Move too late and you’re wasting money. The right data collection and software can help you optimize your efficiency at your facility while ensuring safety.

Common Options for Air Pollution Abatement at Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

For pharmaceutical manufacturers, you have many options depending on your processes, materials, and emissions. However, most operations select between thermal and catalytic oxidizers for their facilities. Each of these break down common pollutants and VOCs into water vapor, heat, and CO2—something we discussed in our science of combustion article.

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Processing

Among the most efficient and reliable solutions for pharmaceutical manufacturers is the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, or RTO. Delivering low operating costs, high levels of heat recovery, and efficiency for pharmaceutical companies, the multi-chamber model helps to increase productivity.

Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers from The CMM Group are designed to destroy air pollutants emitted from process exhaust streams at temperatures ranging from 815°C (1,500 F) to 980°C (1,800 F). Better yet, this heat can be recycled using energy recovery methods—allowing for even more cost effectiveness.

Learn more about RTOs from our articles on how RTOs control gas emissions and reduce operating costs, the signs an RTO can improve your operations, and the steps to determining which pollution control solution is right for you.

Catalytic Oxidization

Designed to provide low-heat (and in turn low operating cost) VOC destruction, Catalytic Oxidizers from The CMM Group are designed to destroy air pollutants and volatile organic compounds in air from process exhaust streams at temperatures ranging from 260°C (500°F) to 345°C (650°F). Relying on a catalyst to reduce the temperature required for pollutant destruction, these are easy to operate and install.

Learn more about the basics and benefits of catalytic oxidizers, get to know some of the common catalysts in catalytic oxidizers, and read how catalytic oxidizers differ from thermal ones here.

Get to Know The CMM Group

If you’re looking for effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability, look no further than The CMM Group. With decades of experience working with companies like yours, we get to know your processes and learn how we can fit in, delivering custom solutions for your unique challenges and needs.

When you work with The CMM Group, we take the time to speak with you, starting with an engineering study and consultation process that helps us understand exactly how your operations work and provides you an accurate summary of what we can do for you. Our team of experts then gets to work to design a solution that is not only compliant, but cost effective and dependable as well. Whether you’re growing your production or replacing your air pollution control equipment, we can help you achieve this with minimal downtime.

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