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Keywords:

  • computational fluid dynamics (CFD);
  • chromatography;
  • process scale columns;
  • header designs;
  • flow distribution

Chromatography is an indispensable unit operation in the downstream processing of biomolecules. Scaling of chromatographic operations typically involves a significant increase in the column diameter. At this scale, the flow distribution within a packed bed could be severely affected by the distributor design in process scale columns. Different vendors offer process scale columns with varying design features. The effect of these design features on the flow distribution in packed beds and the resultant effect on column efficiency and cleanability needs to be properly understood in order to prevent unpleasant surprises on scale-up. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) provides a cost-effective means to explore the effect of various distributor designs on process scale performance. In this work, we present a CFD tool that was developed and validated against experimental dye traces and tracer injections. Subsequently, the tool was employed to compare and contrast two commercially available header designs. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 30:837–844, 2014