Use of scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to identify key fouling species during alternating tangential filtration

Vikram Sundar, Da Zhang, Xianghong Qian, S. Ranil Wickramasinghe, John Paul Smelko, Christina Carbrello, Yara Jabbour Al Maalouf, Andrew L. Zydney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Alternating tangential flow filtration (ATF) has become one of the primary methods for cell retention and clarification in perfusion bioreactors. However, membrane fouling can cause product sieving losses that limit the performance of these systems. This study used scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to identify the nature and location of foulants on 0.2 μm polyethersulfone hollow fiber membranes after use in industrial Chinese hamster ovary cell perfusion bioreactors for monoclonal antibody production. Membrane fouling was dominated by proteinaceous material, primarily host cell proteins along with some monoclonal antibody. Fouling occurred primarily on the lumen surface with much less protein trapped within the depth of the fiber. Protein deposition was also most pronounced near the inlet/exit of the hollow fibers, which are the regions with the greatest flux (and transmembrane pressure) during the cyclical operation of the ATF. These results provide important insights into the underlying phenomena governing the fouling behavior of ATF systems for continuous bioprocessing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3336
JournalBiotechnology progress
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology

Cite this