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Keywords:

  • clarification;
  • depth filtration;
  • centrifugation;
  • monoclonal antibody;
  • cost analysis

The bioreactor volume delineating the selection of primary clarification technology is not always easily defined. Development of a commercial scale process for the manufacture of therapeutic proteins requires scale-up from a few liters to thousands of liters. While the separation techniques used for protein purification are largely conserved across scales, the separation techniques for primary cell culture clarification vary with scale. Process models were developed to compare monoclonal antibody production costs using two cell culture clarification technologies. One process model was created for cell culture clarification by disc stack centrifugation with depth filtration. A second process model was created for clarification by multi-stage depth filtration. Analyses were performed to examine the influence of bioreactor volume, product titer, depth filter capacity, and facility utilization on overall operating costs. At bioreactor volumes <1,000 L, clarification using multi-stage depth filtration offers cost savings compared to clarification using centrifugation. For bioreactor volumes >5,000 L, clarification using centrifugation followed by depth filtration offers significant cost savings. For bioreactor volumes of ∼2,000 L, clarification costs are similar between depth filtration and centrifugation. At this scale, factors including facility utilization, available capital, ease of process development, implementation timelines, and process performance characterization play an important role in clarification technology selection. In the case study presented, a multi-product facility selected multi-stage depth filtration for cell culture clarification at the 500 and 2,000 L scales of operation. Facility implementation timelines, process development activities, equipment commissioning and validation, scale-up effects, and process robustness are examined. © 2013 The Authors. American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1239–1245, 2013