Technical and Economic Benefits of Membrane Chromatography During Polishing Steps - An analysis of flow rate, load density, viral clearance, footprint, and cost. - BioPharm International


Technical and Economic Benefits of Membrane Chromatography During Polishing Steps
An analysis of flow rate, load density, viral clearance, footprint, and cost.

BioPharm International
Volume 23, Issue 8


Figure 4. CoG results for a typical 2,000 L scale production process based on stainless steel equipment using reusable resin and when resin is replaced by disposable membrane chromatography.
When the process is based on stainless steel equipment including reusable resin chromatography column, the overall CoG is $192/g of MAb. The CoG decreases to $184/g when reusable resin is replaced by disposable membrane chromatography (Figure 4). The need for capital requirement is reduced in the membrane chromatography option with 3% capital savings. Disposable membrane chromatography simplifies hardware installation, adding flexibility to the process. Despite a 0.3% increase in consumable cost, the overall CoG savings with disposable membrane chromatography is 4% because of reduced capital requirements, labor, and buffer and water consumption. The disposable chromatography option has the advantage of switching some of the capital costs to consumables costs that are only relevant when the plant is operational.

Figure 5. Water usage for a 2,000 L scale production process based on stainless equipment using reusable resin and when resin is replaced with disposable membrane chromatography.
Figure 5 represents the water and cleaning material usage with the Q membrane and Q resin. As we looked at the whole process, the buffer savings from the membrane is minimized because of the elimination of the CIP and SIP requirements that must be performed on the stainless steel-based equipment. A 3% water usage savings is observed with the membrane technology.


The increasing interest in disposable technology naturally has been followed by a growing concern about the environmental impact because of the solid plastic waste being generated from their use. Sinclair, et al., have compared the environmental footprint of a traditional biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility using fixed-in-place stainless steel equipment and a facility implementing disposable technologies.17 This paper demonstrated that the overall waste streams were reduced with disposable technologies, specifically water load and people requirements. A 25.5% reduction in CO2 emissions was estimated for the facility using disposables relative to the traditional stainless steel-equipped facility. The reduction in CO2 emission mainly is derived from the reduced usage of water, which more than compensates for the emission of CO2 associated with the use of plastics (i.e., between polymerization, transportation, and incineration).


Disposable membrane chromatography significantly reduces the need for water load. Water and buffer usage is 95% less for disposable membrane chromatography because there are no CIP or SIP procedures. Because of its hydrodynamic benefits, membrane adsorbers can operate at much higher flow rate or lower residence time than columns, thereby shortening the overall process time and reducing labor requirements and energy consumption. The smaller membrane device sufficient to process the required throughput reduced the plant footprint and operating costs.

The availability of membrane chromatography as prepacked, disposable, and portable capsules eliminates the need for packing and packing testing, cleaning, and cleaning validation, and adds safety to the product by preventing cross-contamination.

Interest in membrane chromatography has grown because it can be used as a disposable device while maintaining product with the required purity; and it has been much discussed in the literature that single-use system has lower an environmental impact.17,18

Nathalie Fraud, PhD, is senior scientist, purification technologies, at Sartorius Stedim North America, Bohemia, NY, 626.241.2171
Janice Lim, PhD, is bioprocess consultant and Andrew Sinclair is the managing director, both at Biopharm Services Ltd, Chesham Buckinghamshire, UK. Uwe Gottschalk, PhD, is vice president of purification technologies at Sartorius Stedim Biotech GmbH, Göttingen, Germany. Gottschalk is also a member of BioPharm International's editorial advisory board.


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6. Thoemmes J, Etzel M. Alternatives to chromatographic separations. Biotechnol Prog. 2007;23:42–5.

7. Przybycien TM, Pujar NS, Steele LM. Alternative bioseparation operations: life beyond packed-bed chromatography. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2004;15:469–78.

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9. Arunakumari A, Wang J, Ferreira G. Advances in non-Protein A purification processes for human monoclonal antibodies. BioPharm Int. 2009 Mar Supplement:22–6.

10. Gottschalk U, Fischer-Fruehholz S, Reif O. Membrane adsorbers, a cutting edge process technology at the threshold. BioProc Int. 2004;2:56–65.

11. DiBasi K, Jornitz M, Gottschalk U, Priebe PM. Disposable biopharmaceutical processes—myth or reality? BioPharm Int. Nov 2006.

12. Lim JA, C, Sinclair A, Kim DS, Gottschalk U. economic benefits of single-use membrane chromatography in polishing—a cost of goods model. BioProc Int. Feb 2007;48–56.

13. Zhou JX, Tressel T. Basic concepts in Q membrane chromatography for large-scale antibody production. Biotechnol Prog. 2006;22:341–9.

14. Zhou JX, Tressel T, Gottschalk U, Solamo F, Pastor A, Dermawan S, Hong T, Reif O, Mora J, Hutchison F, Murphy M. New Q membrane scale-down model for process-scale antibody purification. J Chromatogr A. 2006;1134:66–73.

15. Zhou J, Tressel T, Guhan S. Disposable chromatography. Single-use membrane chromatography as a polishing option during antibody production is gaining momentum. Biopharm Int. 2007, Supplement Feb. 26–35.

16. Lim JAC, Sinclair A. Process economy of disposable manufacturing—process models to minimize upfront investment. Amer Pharmaceut Rev. 2007;10:114–21.

17. Sinclair A, Leveen L, Monge M, Lim J, Cox S. The Environmental Impact of Disposable Technologies. Can disposable technology reduce your facility's environmental footprint? BioPharm Int. 2008 Nov Supplement:4–15.

18. Leveen L. Single-use technology and the carbon and water footprints of biopharm manuf. Amer Pharmaceut Rev. 2009 Sept/Oct;72–8.

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