Simulation-based evaluation of single pass continuous diafiltration with alternating permeate flow direction
Tan, R. / Franreb, M. (2022)
Separation and Purification Technology, 2022, 282, Part A, 119987
- Date: Februar 2022
In the framework of modern bioprocessing continuous ultrafiltration/diafiltration (UF/DF) is getting increasingly popular. However, while continuous UF can be easily implemented using a so-called single pass tangential flow filtration (SPTFF) module, continuous DF requires a more complicated setup including several SPTFF modules and intermittent dilution steps. Recently, we introduced a novel module design for continuous DF allowing simultaneous delivery of fresh buffer while withdrawing the permeate, thus achieving high degrees of buffer exchange within a single unit. In addition, the system allows to cyclically switch the flow direction of DF buffer through the membranes. Those uncommon features, however, also make it more difficult to determine an operation optimum experimentally by means of trial and error. Therefore, here a detailed finite element model of the physical processes within the module is presented, predicting key figures such as the obtained diafiltration efficiency and the resulting pressures. Because within the module all flow channels are filled by a 3D-printed porous grid supporting the membranes from both sides, the modified Brinkman equation was used to simulate the hydrodynamics, while common mass balance differential equations including accumulation, convection, and an anisotropic dispersion term were used for the simulation of concentration profiles of dissolved species. The predicted key figures are in good agreement with experimental results, obtained for feed solutions including up to 50 g/L of protein and being operated with and without switching the flow direction of the diafiltration buffer. A thorough parameter study reveals that the module shows the best performance for unidirectional flow of the diafiltration buffer, reaching diafiltration efficiencies independence to the applied diavolumes which are comparable to the ones of a conventional multi-stage setup using three SPTFF modules. Therefore, the simulation-based evaluation of optimum operation conditions reveals that the new module design has the potential to realize truly continuous diafiltration setups with high efficiency, requiring only one unit and no extra external piping for returning diafiltration in counterflow. Such simplified setups should be especially useful in small, flexible processing plants as they are increasingly demanded in the biopharmaceutical industry.