Waste-to-Energy: External Forced Circulation Reactor in Rovereto, Italy

Waste-to-EnergyProject: Sandoz Industrial Products S.p.A – Novartis Group
City: Rovereto (Trento)
Country: Italy
Solution Type: Waste-to-Energy
Technology Used: WWT/EFC Reactor
Client: Sandoz Industrial
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Sandoz, the generic pharmaceuticals division of Novartis, with a history of more than 120 years is a worldwide trusted leader in generic pharmaceuticals. Its strategic and customer-focused approach to developing, producing and marketing high-quality affordable medicines following the loss of patent protection, has successfully made Sandoz one of the two largest and most respected generics companies worldwide. Their medicines are already available to 90 percent of people across the world and they are committed to further increasing global access to affordable healthcare.


Sandoz S.p.A had an aerobic treatment plant for its wastewater, but the energy consumption and the surplus sludge production were very high. The company wanted to make its operations more sustainable for better environmental conservation, so a new anaerobic pretreatment was installed before the existing depuration plant. The main challenge was to build and start up the plant without interfering with the normal company production. Moreover, the space for the new installation was very restricted, so the design required a customized and detailed planning.


In order to meet Sandoz’ requirements, RWL Water proposed a mixed anaerobic treatment through an anaerobic digester and a rapid anaerobic reactor (EFC), generating biogas through a cogeneration system. The External Forced Circulation (EFC) reactor is a technology completely developed and “engineered” by RWL Water and it meets the need for high efficient and cost-effectiveness.

The plant ensued from six months of pilot tests performed directly at RWL Water’s facility. These activities allowed RWL Water to find the best solution for Sandoz’ economic, structural and operations requirements.

System Description

  • Effluents: industrial wastes and wastewater from pharmaceutical industry;
  • Capacity: 3.000 cubic meters/day;
  • Pre-treatment with classic anaerobic digester and EFC reactor;
  • Biogas desulfurization;
  • Cogeneration unit and torch.

Project Data:

Flow rate: 3000 mc/d
Methane production: 3.000 Nm3/day
Energy production: 11,500 Kwh/day
Thermal energy (hot water): 12,500 Kwh/day