Characterizing Your Effluent | PRI BIO

The right Effluent Decontamination System (EDS) for your application starts with a comprehensive understanding of the unique characteristics of your process waste. You should know the main source of your effluent waste, such as wash down drains, sinks, showers, necropsy labs, cell cultures, growth media waste or fermentation tanks.  In each waste source, there are a wide variety of characteristics to consider, such as solids content, viscosity, corrosiveness, and heat sensitivity. You need to learn the basics of characterizing your effluent.

Characterizing Your Effluent – The Basics

Let’s start with the essentials.  Before we discuss the sources of waste, we should review some of the aspects to look out for, and how they may effect your Effluent Decontamination System.


Understanding the solids content of your effluent is critical in providing the right system for your facility.  You should have a good idea of what the solids consist of, the average and maximum size of the solids, and approximate amount of solids in your waste stream.  Solids may range from small particles like cellular waste, to larger solids such as animal or human waste, bedding particles, or items which may be in an effluent waste stream.  The EDS must take these things into consideration, because not all solids will flow properly through all EDS.


The effluent stream from your process must be capable of either gravity draining or being pumped to our system.  This should be taken into consideration at both the normal and extreme operating conditions of your process, to ensure the EDS can accommodate out-of-the-ordinary situations.  It is also very important to note if your waste will gel at high temperatures as this could greatly affect the operation of the unit.


We need to understand what is in your effluent to be sure we design the system with materials and processes that are going to be compatible.  Let us know if your waste includes organic material, corrosives such as strong acids or caustic, or if there will be pathogens present.  All of these factors can have a major impact on the design of your system.

Effluent Characteristics – Understand The Source

Effluent Decontamination Systems come in many varieties.  We offer large batch systems, continuous flow systems, chemical systems and even small lab treatment systems.  Each system is designed for a specific type of application, and for a specific type of effluent. When the wrong effluent type is sent through the EDS, you will achieve undesired and inconsistent results.  Here are a few examples of some effluent types and the types of systems that will and will not handle them appropriately:

Necropsy & Wash Down:

For wash down from a necropsy suite a few factors must be considered. Solids from procedures may make it past grating and screen and end up in the treatment system.  Chemicals for disinfection may also be used to clean these spaces and while these chemicals may not have any effect on the surfaces on the room or on the piping to your EDS they may cause damage to the materials used in our equipment.  Pump, heat exchangers, and flow devices may be more sensitive to these types of substances.

Given this information, a large batch thermal system (such as the ThermoBatch) system may be the right choice for this application.  More robust materials can be used for the construction, there are no narrow passageways that can be blocked by solids or build up, and the measurement devices are designed to either avoid constant contact with the effluent or to withstand the composition.  Continuous flow systems (such as the AutoFlow) will have pumps, smaller gauge tubing, heat exchangers, and measurement devices that may foul under these conditions and should be avoided for this type of use.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing:

Pharmaceutical processes and vaccine manufacturing tends to yield a low solids, and lower risk biowaste effluent stream.  With pharmaceutical effluent, there can often be cellular material, at varying flow levels throughout the day, due to manufacturing production.  It is important to understand the flow, and how the viscosity may be affected under thermal treatment.

The AutoFlow is often well-suited for this type of effluent waste, as the system can handle high or low volume flows while maintaining the treatment levels necessary for facility and industry regulations, and requires less space within the facility.  In some cases, ThermoBatch may be the ideal choice for certain pharma clients.

Lab Showers, Sinks, Drains & Others:

Flow profiles from these sources can be difficult to handle, as they tend to be delivered in slugs or bursts.  Additionally, the soaps and particulates that may be present can be prone to clogging and build-up, if small tubing and heat exchangers are used.  For this waste stream, batch thermal treatment (such as ThermoBatch) may suggested, because it is designed to handle higher solids content, and does not have small tubing or heat exchangers.

PRI Bio designs a variety of Effluent Decontamination Systems, for many applications and for many waste streams.  We are dedicated to helping you choose the right system that will achieve the treatment you desire, with a high degree of consistency and reliability.