If at all, the recovery of Ethanol 96% in pharmaceutical quality from wastes of blood plasma fractionating plants is performed by means of common rectification columns.

Since the specifications are typically narrow, variations in feed concentration, occurrence of light ends like aldehydes and fouling from denaturating proteins lead to very personnel-intensive and thus expensive solutions. Membrane processes are a potential alternative to rectifications, but they are still under development and yet not reliable enough for daily use under industrial conditions. 


VTU designed a special rectification plant that faces the above mentioned challenges and provides the following benefits:

  • Low height because of efficient column internals in the upper section
  • Low fouling rate due to an advanced tray design in the lower section and an innovative reboiler concept
  • Insensible to light ends due to middle fractionation
  • Applicability of automated CIP despite very long cleaning intervals
  • Fully automated – operators are only needed for start-up und shut-down and for inspection and maintenance
  • Maximum yield due to minimal purge streams


To date, there are two plants with production capacity of 500 kg/h realized and in operation at Octapharma Pharmazeutika Produktionsges.m.b.H. in Austria and Octapharma AB in Sweden.


Both plants have following performance data:

  • Product: Ethanol acc. Pharmacopeia „Ethanol 96 %“
  • Feed: 15 % to 60 % ethanol, polluted by proteins, aldehydes, acetic acid, ethyl acetate etc., Isopropanol is not allowed and must be collected separately
  • Energy consumption: 1,2 – 1,6 KWh per kg Ethanol
  • Recovery rate: from 85 % to 95 %