North America
(800) 941-9484
+1 (614) 863-1650

2211 Lake Club Drive
Suite 205
Columbus, Ohio  43232 USA

26400 Broadway Ave
Unit A
Oakwood Village, Ohio  44146 USA


Solvent/Acetone/Formalin Recycling

CBG knows that manufacturers and researchers may have many questions concerning waste solvent recovery, and we’re glad to answer every question that comes our way.  Below are answers to some of the most frequent questions we receive.

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  • How much operator time is required in using a CBG Biotech Recycler?
    Approximately 15 minutes on average to load, fill, start the cycle and unload the recycled product. This unit is totally automated and self-contained. CBG recyclers are designed for easy operation and do not require highly trained technical staff to operate.
  • How long does each cycle take? The actual length of each cycle depends upon the type of material being recycled, the volume of the material, and the type of recycler being used. However, the following is a good generalization:
    Product Bench Top and Standard, Cart-Mounted Models
    Xylene and Xylene Substitutes1 hour per gallon
    Alcohols1.25 to 1.5 hours per gallon
    Formalin2 hours per gallon
    Acetone1 to 1.5 hours per gallon
  • How much time is involved in cleaning the equipment?
    The unit is self-cleaning when operated according to instructions and no cleaning is needed. Wastes dispense automatically to collection containers for easy disposal.
  • Can the equipment run overnight?
    Yes. CBG recyclers are approved to UL standards for distillation equipment and are safe to run unattended. If the unit malfunctions, it is designed to alarm out and shut down safely. Many labs start a cycle before they leave for the day so they can come in to fresh product in the morning. You can also get increased throughput with this feature.


  • What about the solvent quality?
    Purity: 99%
    Recovery: 80% to 95% (depending upon solvent)
  • How do we prove that the solvent is purified? Does the solvent need testing after distillation?
    Neither CAP nor JCAHO require any special testing of the recycled solvent(s) before use; you test and use the products in the same manner you would use vendor solvents. There is a hydrometer provided with alcohol recyclers to allow the user to check the concentration of the recycled alcohol. For xylene and xylene substitutes, there is a simple test in the manual to verify the purity. Contact CBG Technical Support for information on formalin testing.
  • Does the quality and/or purity of a solvent change over time, as the solvent is repeatedly recycled?
    No. In fact, the recycled solvent usually is of a higher quality than the vendors’ originally supplied starting grade, due to the purification that results from the fractional distillation process. The solvents themselves are extremely stable and do not show any measurable decomposition even after many years of storage at elevated temperatures.
  • Why is fractional distillation, as compared to simple distillation, so important to my solvent recycling?
    The simple answer is that you need fractional distillation to obtain the high purity solvents that you need for your work. Only fractional distillation can separate two or more volatile liquids from one another while yielding good purities. Simple distillation, by contrast, collects all of the liquids together without very much, if any, separation of the individual solvents.
  • What happens if the mixture has other solvents apart from xylene, acetone and water?
    Collection is the most important part of successful recycling. The different solvents in use must be collected separately and recycled in the appropriate program. Contaminants consistent with the use of that solvent, i.e. carryover of Eosin into the alcohol rinse stations on the histology staining line are removed in distillation. However, if your lab uses both xylene and a xylene substitute, those solvents should be collected separately and recycled separately.
  • What if there are suspended solids?
    Fine mesh strainers that fit in the fill carboys are provided to allow larger particulate matter to be removed during the fill process. Units with fill pumps have an additional strainer as part of the pump assembly. Particulate matter such as cellular debris is not volatile and will be collected as part of the waste at the end of the distillation cycle.
  • Can absolute alcohol be recycled?
    Yes. If collected separately, absolute alcohol will yield a recycled product of 98-99% in concentration. This product can be used in absolute station except for those just before your clearing agent. Due to the alcohol/water azeotrope, a 100% concentration cannot be achieved as a recycled product.


  • Are there any fire risks?
    There is no vapor escape. The unit is approved to UL standards for distillation units and was developed in accordance with the rules and regulations in the Uniform Fire Code and the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Is there any risk for leaks?
    The interior components are a closed system. The main source of leaks is through improper use of spigots, i.e., a spigot left open on a recovery carboy. Should a leak occur, the recycler has built-in containment so any spill would be trapped in the unit.
  • Does a CBG Biotech Solvent Recycler need any water hook-ups or special ventilation system?
    No. All solvent recyclers are air-cooled using multiple, internal fans. This feature, coupled with both the “no-pour gravity-fill” and the “vapor-recovery” systems, ensure that no vapors or odors will be released into your working area.


  • Does your company have a cost benefit worksheet to help to determine which particular unit will best suit our needs?
    Yes. Your sales representative will supply a form for you to enter the volumes and costs of the reagents you use, including the costs for disposal of those solvents.
  • What if I don’t have any capital funds but would like to start recycling? How is that possible?
    No problem at all. CBG Biotech has a variety of programs that can meet your individual needs. If you have cost savings, we can show you how to handle this problem. For example, we offer short-term rental programs that will bridge the gap between the end of your evaluation period and the time when your purchasing or leasing funds become available. The actual rental payments can come from your supply budget and it will cost you less than you are currently paying for new solvents and disposal of the old solvents. And in some instances, a portion of your rental payments can be applied to the purchase price. We also offer various operating leases that can be handled through your supply budget, rather than through a capital appropriation. The lack of capital funds should not be a hindrance if a facility wants to start recycling.
  • What are the benefits of recycling?
    The benefits are numerous! You simply use, recycle, and re-use your solvents at the point of generation; they never leave the area. Your facility saves a lot of money by not having to buy new solvents and not having to pay someone to haul away your old solvents. You will also save on storage space and storage lockers. Savings can also be achieved in purchasing and accounts payable due to not having to transport hazardous and flammable liquids through hospital corridors and not having to store these solvents in a central location. Finally, recycling is being required increasingly as part of various federal, state and local mandates on waste minimization. Waste minimization not only makes good sense as a way to avoid compliance problems, but also makes good environmental sense. Recycling is one of the few times in life when “doing good” can save you money, time and space.


  • What service programs are offered?
    CBG offers a Total Replacement Policy (TRP). If the unit malfunctions and the problem cannot be resolved by our Technical Support staff over the phone, a replacement unit will be provided. CBG also offers standard and premium onsite preventive maintenance programs. Our Buy Back/Upgrade program provides trade-in credit for older models and provides for changes in volume and space.
  • How many years have you been selling this equipment?
    CBG Biotech has been manufacturing distillation devices since 1996. Although distillation equipment has been used in laboratories for many years, CBG Biotech has become the market leader by researching the needs of laboratories and developing recyclers that meet those needs by dramatically improving the safety and ease of use.