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Keywords:

  • scroll decanter centrifuge;
  • dewatering;
  • ultra scale-down;
  • Baker's yeast

During centrifugation operation, the major challenge in the recovery of extracellular proteins is the removal of the maximum liquid entrapped within the spaces between the settled solids–dewatering level. The ability of the scroll decanter centrifuge (SDC) to process continuously large amounts of feed material with high concentration of solids without the need for resuspension of feeds, and also to achieve relatively high dewatering, could be of great benefit for future use in the biopharmaceutical industry. However, for reliable prediction of dewatering in such a centrifuge, tests using the same kind of equipment at pilot-scale are required, which are time consuming and costly. To alleviate the need of pilot-scale trials, a novel USD device, with reduced amounts of feed (2 mL) and to be used in the laboratory, was developed to predict the dewatering levels of a SDC. To verify USD device, dewatering levels achieved were plotted against equivalent compression (Gtcomp) and decanting (Gtdec) times, obtained from scroll rates and feed flow rates operated at pilot-scale, respectively. The USD device was able to successfully match dewatering trends of the pilot-scale as a function of both Gtcomp and Gtdec, particularly for high cell density feeds, hence accounting for all key variables that influenced dewatering in a SDC. In addition, it accurately mimicked the maximum dewatering performance of the pilot-scale equipment. Therefore the USD device has the potential to be a useful tool at early stages of process development to gather performance data in the laboratory thus minimizing lengthy and costly runs with pilot-scale SDC. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1494–1502, 2013