Steady flow, low shear pumping reduces costs

840 peristaltic pump for biopharmThe working group on fermentation technology at the Institute of Biotechnology 2 at the Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany is focussed on the design of new bioreactors and equipment in the laboratory. It estimates that the costs involved in downstream processing of fermentative products are approximately 2 to 10 times higher than those involved in the fermentation itself. With a culture of live cells, low shear is a vital feature of any pump. Peristaltic pumps have the lowest shear of any pump type. Initially a centrifugal pump was specified, which was not only expensive due to its stainless-steel construction, but it also failed to maintain the required steady flow and was relatively expensive. In comparison, the Watson-Marlow 840 series pump with STA-Pure tubing that was finally chosen was considerably cheaper. 

An additional benefit of the peristaltic pump, (apart from its relatively low initial cost) is its low maintenance requirement. Under normal circumstances, just an occasional change of tube element is needed, which can be done without specialist knowledge or tools. While pump literature is often concerned with things like seal life, with a peristaltic pump this does not even enter into the discussion. Peristaltic pumps have no seals and no dead spots, which is extremely important for the biotechnology industry. In addition there are other benefits such as an extremely low thermal input into the media.

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