The project was undertaken by Pharmafilter™ in conjunction with the Mater Hospital.

Pharmafilter is an innovative concept for patient care, waste management and wastewater purification for hospitals and other care institutions. The waste from the hospital department will be disposed of in a shredder, the Tonto®. The Tonto is connected to the existing sewer system. Together with the effluent from toilets, sinks and showers, the shredded waste is transported, through the existing hospital piping infrastructure, to a purification plant on the hospital site. Treatment will include Anaerobic Digestion, membrane bioreactor, Ozonization, UV Disinfection, and the filtration of activated carbon. An EPA licence was required for the treatment plant.

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Waste water from hospitals was a source of potential health risks inside as well as outside the hospital, particularly due to the pharmaceutical substances present. The Pharmafilter system was designed and devised to resolve these problems. The core of this solution was the collection and cleansing of waste water to which other hospital waste streams were added, and included the use of single use biodegradable products.

Waste water from hospitals contain high concentrations of pharmaceutical substances, such as cardiovascular medicines, painkillers, antibiotics, cytostatics and X-ray contrast fluids. These enter the waste water from urine and faeces. As traditional sewage treatment systems are not designed to remove (organic) micro contamination, only a part of this contamination is removed. Surface water is therefore contaminated by that part of these substances that is not removed.

After the solid and liquid waste is separated, the waste water flows through the biological reactor where air is introduced and where bacteria remove the organic substances thoroughly. A large part of the nitrogen and phosphorus compounds are also removed. The water is then further purified by means of ozonization and filtration through activated carbon. In this way, the values of the classic waste water purification parameters are reduced to the same levels as in a conventional sewage systems.

After passing through the purification process, no observable traces of the approx. 100 medicines measured in the effluent were found in the effluent (all measurements are below the detection limit). This also applies to fire retardants, hormone-disturbing substances and X-ray contrast fluids. The Pharmafilter system produces clean high quality effluent and it is suitable for reuse based on the parameters measured.

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