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Influence of flow alterations on bacteria retention during microfiltration

Helling, Alexander, Grote, Christina, Büning, Dominic, Ulbricht, Mathias, Wessling, Matthias, Polakovic, Milan, Thom, Volkmar
Journal of membrane science 2019 v.575 pp. 147-159
Gram-positive bacteria, Mycoplasma, artificial membranes, culture media, filters, microfiltration, models, pH, porosity, salt concentration, surfactants, temperature, turbidity, virion, viruses
Microfiltration membranes retain bacteria predominantly by size-exclusion. However, some empirical data points towards the fact, that alterations in flow rate as well as changes in the quality of adhesive interactions between the membrane surface and the bacteria can affect their retention. For parvo virus retaining normal flow virus-filters, systematic investigations have been undertaken to characterize the impact of flow alterations as well as modulations of particle-membrane interactions on virus particle retention. For depth filters used, e.g., for the clarification of fermentation broths, it is well known that alterations in flow rate typically lead to elevated levels of turbidity. This work adopts the acquired knowledge from virus- and depth-filters and investigates their applicability for bacteria retention by microfiltration membranes. It presents particle retention data for mycoplasma and Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Single layer flat sheet PES model microfiltration membranes with maximum pore sizes varying from 0.3 to 1.5 µm and an overall low retention were used in order to easily detect and differentiate their retention properties for the different particle species. The event of particle breakthrough is elucidated depending on the adsorptive character of the membrane surface, the pore size, and changes in flow rate including the interruption of flow. Moreover, this work investigates how the chemical and physical solution properties influence bacterial retention. These properties include the temperature of the fluid, the presence of a surfactant, the salt concentration and the pH. Flow interruptions using B. diminuta were also applied to commercially available PES sterilizing-grade microfiltration membranes showing no bacterial breakthrough.