To improve protein separation, a novel integrated device combining membrane filtration and chromatography has been developed. The device basically consists of a hollow fiber filtration module whose shell side is filled with chromatographic resin beads. However, there is an essentially impermeable coated zone near the hollow fiber module outlet. The integrated device enjoys the advantages of both membrane filtration and chromatography; it also allows one to load the chromatographic media directly from the fermentation broth or lysate and separate the adsorbed proteins through the subsequent elution step in a cyclic process. Interfacial polymerization was carried out to coat the bottom section of the hollow fiber membrane; the rest of the hollow fiber membrane remained unaffected. Myoglobin (Mb) and a-lactalbumin (α-LA) were primarily used as model proteins in a binary mixture; binary mixtures of Mb and bovine serum albumin (BSA) were also investigated. Separation behaviors of binary protein mixtures were studied in devices having either an ultrafiltration (UF) or a microfiltration (MF) membrane. Experimental results show that the breakthrough time and the protein loading capacities were dramatically improved after introducing the impermeable coating in both UF and MF modules. For a synthetic yeast fermentation broth feed, four loading-washing-elution- reequilibration-based cyclic runs for separation of Mb and α-LA were performed in the device using a MF membrane with a coated zone without cleaning in between. The Mb and α-LA elution profiles for the four consecutive runs were almost superimposable. Due to lower transmembrane flux in this device plus the periodical washing-elution during the chromatographic separation, fouling was not a problem, unlike in conventional microfiltration.
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