Optimization of environmental impact reduction and economic feasibility of solvent waste recovery using a new software tool

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Abstract

The environmental impact reduction and operating costs savings associated with the purification and recovery of solvent waste in the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API's) were investigated. A software toolbox has been developed that combines Aspen Plus® process simulation with SimaPro® and Ecosolvent life cycle assessment (LCA) databases. A LCA approach was used in order to consider the environmental impact beyond pharmaceutical production plant boundaries. The feasibility of a relatively small flexible equipment-skid capable of recovering multiple solvent waste streams was evaluated. Distillation and pervaporation were considered to separate binary waste solvent mixtures. Optimum distillation reflux ratio and feed stage were determined to maximize the environmental impact reductions and operating cost savings. The optimum reflux ratio was significantly higher than 1.2 times the minimum reflux ratio suggested by traditional heuristics. The emissions and cost reductions obtained were as much as 49% and 56% higher, respectively, as compared to using the conventional optimum reflux ratio. A comprehensive cash flow analysis showed that the recovery of low volume solvent waste streams is economically feasible, despite traditional thinking. Three case studies from Pfizer are presented to show how our software tool can aid in green engineering decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1942-1954
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Volume92
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)

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