Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)


Chemical & Process Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Aisling O'Gorman (CIT)

Second Advisor

Mr. John O'Shea (CIT)

Third Advisor

Mr. Steve Daughney (Eli Lilly)


The aim of this project was to investigate the potential to treat liquid waste (secondary) from production processes at Eli Lilly with the emphasis on minimising the volume of waste sent for thermal oxidation. In addition, the project aimed to investigate if the chosen technology was diverse and potentially capable of handling waste streams from different processes. Membrane technology was identified as one of the most suitable technologies and trials were carried out on secondary waste from three production processes. The literature review and practical thrials aswell as assessment of trial results ran from October 2003 to June 2005.

All the production process waste streams were characterized using a “stream selection matrix’’ whereby streams were scored on such qualities as the annual volume of waste being produced from each process forecast for the coming years, the pharmaceutical molecule size for the relevant production process and the campaign duration of each process during the production period. From this system, waste from three production processes was selected to bring forward to small scale trials. Membrane plant manufacturers were also contacted and a screening process was undertaken to find the most suitable companies to work with. From this process, two vendors were chosen to carry out pilot trials on each of the three chosen production waste streams.

Pilot trials were carried out on each waste stream and a successful volume reduction and API rejection was achieved on the Tilmicosin process waste stream while limited success was achieved on the remaining two process waste streams. In light of the successful first round trials on the Tilmicosin waste stream, a second round of trials were planned and carried out so as to further assess the repeatability of results on a larger scale and also to obtain design information for a potential full scale plant. The initial targeted goal of the trials was to achieve an overall volume reduction of 75% and also to consistently achieve the desired API removal so as to remain significantly and consistently below limits for API emissions to the environment. Results from these trials indicated that for the Tilmicosin waste stream the process required two membrane passes and when cleaning volumes were taken into account the achievable volume reduction was 60%. This result was deemed to be satisfactory and as a result funding was given for a full scale plant to process Tilmicosin waste. The plant became fully operational in March 2006.

This technology is seen as potentially playing a large role in the treatment of waste on Lilly sites worldwide and as a result it is likely that further research will be carried out in this field in the near future.

Access Level