Optimization of fluid flow in membrane chromatography devices using computational fluid dynamic simulations
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Flow uniformity within the device is critically important in membrane chromatography. Recent studies have shown that the design of the device has a significant impact on flow uniformity, and thereby on separation efficiency. The main premise of this work is that computational fluid dynamics (CFD) could serve as a fast and inexpensive tool for preliminary optimization of the design of a membrane chromatography device. CFD also helps in identifying factors that affect flow uniformity. In this paper, CFD is used to compare the fluidic attributes of conventional membrane chromatography devices such as the stacked disc and radial flow devices with those of more recently developed ones such as the different versions of the laterally-fed membrane chromatography (LFMC) device. These are compared based on pulse tracer solute dispersion, which is a useful metric for measuring flow uniformity, and is thereby a good predictor of chromatographic separation performance. The poor separation performance typically observed with conventional membrane chromatography devices could be attributed to the high degree of solute dispersion within these devices. CFD is then used to analyze the impact of factors such as membrane aspect ratio, and channel dimensions on the performance of z2-laterally-fed membrane chromatography (z2LFMC) devices. The results discussed in the paper demonstrate that CFD could indeed serve as a powerful optimization and performance prediction tool for membrane chromatography.
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