Abbott Park, IL
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to discovery,
development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical and medical products, including
nutritionals, devices, and diagnostics. The north suburban Chicago company employs more than
55,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.
The intern worked on several projects, but the primary focus was on water conservation projects
in fermentation process areas.
· Approximately 1,000,000 gallons of fresh water per year are being conserved in the
fermentation processes improving wastewater treatment operations and reducing water
o Automated liquid level controls were added and preventive maintenance routines
were re-assessed in one process room, reducing water usage and waste by up to
13,000 gallon per product cycle (24-36 hours).
o Four large centrifuges are used to separate concentrated product from excess
water. These centrifuges are flushed with fresh water for at least 30 minutes as
part of the cleaning protocol, about 20-25 liters per minute. Depending on
operator availability, the fresh water could be left running for periods of time,
with all excess fresh water going to the high-COD holding tank for treatment. A
control was placed on the system that automatically turns off the water supply to
the centrifuge flush once it has been idle for 1 hour. The 1-hour time limit ensures
that the 30-minute requirement has been achieved for quality compliance
purposes. This could save up to 2,575 gallons for one centrifuge usage.
o A filter is used to separate product from other components of the harvest. While
running, it is continuously flushed with fresh water to prevent solids build-up.
Operators observed that this is an excessive amount of clean water, and suggested
that a solenoid valve be fitted to the instrument to let water flush for one minute
every 10 minutes. This project has not been implemented, but is still in an
· The intern identified the following opportunities to reduce waste generation and improve
o Shrink-wrap recycling began in the fermentation warehouse during 2004.
Approximately 500 pounds of shrink-wrap per year are diverted from landfill.
o The returned goods warehouse door was programmed with an automatic closing
device, which will save approximately $2,000 in heating energy each year.
o Coffee grounds from the Abbott Lake County cafeterias are being reused as
compost for site landscaping. This diverts nine tons per year from landfill.