North Chicago, Illinois
Intern: Virginia Palmer
Northwestern University, Evanston
Abbott Laboratories specializes in fermentation manufacturing, as well as the production
of antibiotics and agricultural-related products at its North Chicago facility. This facility
is one of Abbott’s oldest locations. It includes more than 3,000,000 square feet of
manufacturing and office space.
The interns worked on several waste reduction and energy efficiency projects.
The intern made the following recommendations:
• Utilize waste heat from the effluent at the wastewater treatment plant to preheat water
going into the processes. This project has the potential to save over $50,000 per
• Reuse the caustic water (solution of sodium hydroxide and water) which is used to
clean tanks and other equipment in the fermentation process. The use of an ultra-filtration
membrane would allow the caustic water to be reused on site. Further
analysis of this option was recommended.
• Consider sending the filtercake from the fermentation process to a composting facility
instead of landfilling the materials. The intern contacted three facilities to inquire
about the feasibility of composting the nutrient-rich material in a pilot project.
• Conducted a lighting audit with the assistance of BLI Lighting. It was determined
that approximately $18,000 could be saved annually on upgrades to the lighting
fixtures, with a three year payback period. This analysis did not take into account the
possibility of ComEd rebates or federal tax credits.