From feedwater, through internal treatment to generate pharmaceutical grade water, to final
discharge, water is critical to pharmaceutical manufacturing. Water treatment at each phase of
manufacture must accomplish two goals: purity and sustainability. Contamination is potentially
life-threatening, so preventing water contamination is essential for product safety. Treatments
must meet the standards of the relevant pharmacopeias for the intended use of the water, with
different pharmaceutical grades requiring different treatments from purified water (PW) to
highly purified water (HPW) to the highest purity of water for injection (WFI). Pharmaceutical
manufacturers are also taking a proactive approach to sustainability, as both water scarcity and
mitigation of environmental impacts encourage water efficiency through internal recycle and
advanced treatment for final discharges.
While noting that treatment requirements vary depending upon the relevant pharmacopeia, most
treatment trains to generate purified water or WFI involve membranes (UF and/or RO),
deionization, and/or distillation, and disinfection. However, treatments like thermal
disinfection and distillation consume a lot of energy. Therefore, improving water efficiencies
to reduce the quantity requiring treatment also improves energy efficiency. Internal reuse as
wash water also reduces discharge volumes and wastewater treatment costs.