ACROSS industrial sectors, there is a requirement for some form of solid-liquid separation. Regardless of scale or whether the solids are a valuable product or an unwanted waste stream, precision separation of the solid and liquid streams is usually a critical step in the process. It is therefore curious that during development of new processes, this step is largely overlooked and can become a major obstacle in scaling up new processes from the lab to commercial plant.
Development of filtration technology has been driven by vendors responding to specific market opportunities, resulting in technology that is limited by scale, sector or process duty, with little or no research into applications outside of these constraints. Consequently, the scaleup of filtration processes is typically limited to catalogue engineering reusing technology already prevalent within the sector, often creating bottlenecks and inefficiencies that could be removed by applying better technology.
There are great opportunities for better process development to define filtration parameters for scaleup, and better technology development to transcend sector and scale boundaries
Through my own experiences of scaleup, or troubleshooting process issues post scaleup, I feel there are great opportunities for better process development to define filtration parameters for scaleup, and better technology development to transcend sector and scale boundaries. This will allow selection of the right filtration technology at an early stage when the overall process design can still be adapted to maximise the efficiency and robustness of the process.