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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Syracuse


The Bristol-Myers Squibb Company owns and operates a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Syracuse, New York with approximately 950 employees. The Syracuse bulk manufacturing operation produces 6-aminopenicillianic acid (6-APA), an intermediate used in the worldwide production of penicillin products, such as ampicillin and amoxicillin.

This pollution prevention project reduces emissions of one of the solvents used in the manufacture of 6-APA by 1 million pounds per year and provides for a significant economic payback.

Methodologies and Procedures

The Syracuse facility's Chemical Development Group, using a pilot plant operation installed in 1991, successfully developed a Penicillin V isolation procedure consisting of whole broth filtration followed by extraction of the intermediate with a solvent of less toxicity using a "closed" centrifuge. This filtration is accomplished by passing the broth tangentially over a membrane at high velocity and pressure thereby separating the product from the broth. The high velocity at the membrane surface keeps the membrane clean while the pressure forces a clear liquid solution of the product through the membrane, thereby filtering out impurities within the broth. This process was successfully scaled-up and in production by October 1994.

Once filtration is complete, solvent extraction is conducted in a closed centrifuge system. The use of whole broth filtration thus allows the extraction to be completed using fewer centrifuges and less solvent. Design of the new centrifuges is such that any fugitive emissions are captured and sent to a carbon adsorption unit and ultimately to a recovery system to be reused in the process.

The new process substitutes methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) with n-butyl acetate, a relatively low toxic pollutant. Reported MIBK releases for 1994 were 1.0 million pounds. This project eliminated the use of MIBK and, therefore, the release of 1.0 million pounds of MIBK annually.


The new technique eliminates use of solvents in the filtration phase. In the extraction phase, equipment used is designed to contain solvents emissions.

Since no solvents are used in the filtration process, impurities separated from the product are considered non-hazardous and can be directly discharged into the sewer system avoiding disposal costs.

The discharge from the new extraction centrifuges is sent to the collection system and from there to the existing stripper system. In this manner, the solvent discharge is greatly reduced from the previous method of operation since broth solids are kept out of the stripper system which significantly increases the recovery efficiency.

This project eliminated the polish press operation which was the main source of potential worker exposure and fugitive emissions. Elimination of the centrifuges reduces employee noise exposure.

Flammable liquid usage was significantly reduced.

Facility modifications to the new filtration/extraction location, which are in conformance with all fire and OSHA safety codes, reduced potential business interruptions that could result from these critical process operations.

By implementing this project, overall 6-APA product costs are reduced. A 10 percent increase in production was realized from implementing the new process.

Annual operating cost reductions coupled with a 10 percent increase in production will generate $4.9 million in additional cash flow. It is estimated that this project will generate a return on investment of 28 percent and an undiscounted payback period of 2.7 years.

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This page was last modified MArch 8, 1999

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