The fractionation of dextran polymer by ultrafiltration to yield clinical products

  • Keith R. Poland

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A review of ultrafiltration (UF) theory and equipment has been made.
Dextran is fractionated industrially by ethanol precipitation, which is a high energy intensive process.
The aims of this work were to investigate the fractionation of dextran using UF and to compare the efficiency and costs of UF fractionation with ethanol fractionation. This work is the continuation of research conducted at Aston, which was concerned with the fractionation of dextran using gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and hollow fibre UF membranes supplied by Amicon Ltd.
Initial laboratory work centred on determining the most efficient make and configuration of membrane. UF membranes of the Millipore cassette configuration, and the DDS flat-sheet configuration, were examined for the fracationation of low molecular weight (MW) dextran. When compared to Amicon membranes, these membranes were found to be inferior. DDS membranes of 25 000 and 50 000 MW cut-offs were shown to be capable of fractionating high MW dextran with the same efficiency as GPC.
The Amicon membranes had an efficiency comparable to that of ethanol fractionation. To increase this efficiency a theoretical UF membrane cascade was adopted to utilize favourable characteristics encountered in batch mode membrane experiments. The four stage cascade used recycled permeates in a counter- current direction to retentate flow, and was operated 24 hours per day controlled by a computer. Using 5 000 MW cut-off membranes the cascade improved the batch efficiency by at least 10% for a fractionation at 6 000 MW.
Economic comparisons of ethanol fractionation, combined GPC and UF fractionation, and UF fractionation of dextran were undertaken. On an economic basis GPC was the best method for high MW dextran fractionation. When compared with a plant producing 100 tonnes pa of clinical dextran, by ethanol fractionation, a combined GPC and UF cascade fractionation could produce savings on operating costs and an increased dextran yield of 5%.
Date of AwardJun 1986
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPhilip E. Barker (Supervisor)


  • dextran
  • polymer
  • fractionation
  • ultrafiltration
  • membranes

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