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Use of Ultrafiltration
in Water Purification

Introduction brane may affect the purification

efficiency. Ultrafiltration pore ratings
Ultrafiltration (UF) is an important
range from approximately ⁄000 to
purification technology used for the
500,000 daltons, thereby making
production of high-purity water in
UF more permeable than nanofiltra-
the biochemical, food and beverage,
tion (200 – ⁄000 daltons).
and biopharmaceutical industries.
When strategically combined with UF membranes are composed of
other purification technologies in a a polymer, such as polysulfone or
complete water system, UF is ideal polyamide, that is usually extruded
for the removal of particles, pyrogens, into flat sheets or hollow fibers or cut
proteins, and macromolecules from into disks as required by the specific
purified water. This article outlines application. A small disk of UF mem-
the key principles and practical brane may be subject to rapid fouling
applications of UF technology. and produce a low flow rate for
many processes. As a result, UF
membranes are typically arranged
Basic Principles of in a configuration which maximizes
Ultrafiltration surface area and reduces fouling by
Ultrafiltration is a pressure-driven using a tangential flow design to
purification process in which water reduce solute accumulation at the
and low molecular weight substances membrane surface. Tangential flow
permeate a membrane while parti- UF devices may be spiral-wound
cles, colloids, and macromolecules cartridges containing several square
are retained. The primary removal feet of membrane wrapped onto a

 mechanism is size exclusion, although

the electrical charge and surface
central core tube or hollow-fiber
cartridges containing dozens of thin
chemistry of the particles or mem- UF membrane fibers.
The Role of UF in
Liquid Filtration via Hollow Fiber UF Technology
Water Purification
UF is effective for the removal of col-
loids, proteins, bacteria, pyrogens
(e.g., gram-negative bacterial endo-
toxins), and other organic molecules
larger than the membrane pore size.
Fast Flush Port UF can be used as pretreatment to
Cross section of hollow fiber reverse osmosis or for the final filtra-
Hollow Fibers
tion of deionized water.

When Type I1 product water is

required, it is critical that the UF car-
tridge materials and design minimize
Flow Direction extractables and stagnant volume that
can lower ionic purity and increase
bacterial and dissolved organic con-
tamination. The hollow-fiber UF is
ideal for the filtration of high-purity
Feed water.2 A hollow-fiber cartridge
Water flows from the outside of the
hollow fiber into the fiber lumen. used in the Millipore water system
is constructed of high-purity plastic
selected specifically for low ionic
Figure 1 and organic extractable levels.
Deionized, ⁄8.2 MΩ-cm water enters
the cartridge and passes through the
exterior of the UF membrane wall
into the fiber lumen. Then the filtered
Hollow Fiber UF Endotoxin Reduction
5000 dalton MWCO hollow-fiber membrane, low and high level endotoxin challenge water travels at a high velocity to the
product stream with minimal contact
Endotoxin Concentration (EU/mL)

10000 with the cartridge surfaces, thus

minimizing extractables and contam-
ination (see figure 1). As water is
1 6.6 log
continually purified, solutes become
3.7 log
0.1 reduction reduction concentrated upstream of the UF
0.01 membrane potentially creating fouling
0.001 conditions. The water system periodi-
Feed Product Feed Product cally performs a hydraulic flush of
Low challenge High challenge concentrated contaminants upstream
LPS source - E. coli endotoxin
of the membrane resulting in consis-
tent flow rate and product purity.
Figure 2
The efficiency of the UF cartridge
can be expressed as its log reduction
value (LRV) as follows:

[contaminants in feed solution]

[contaminants in product solution]

A hollow-fiber UF cartridge was eval-

uated for endotoxin removal efficien-
cy by feeding a UF cartridge with a
range of endotoxin concentrations
and determining the resulting LRV. The
hollow-fiber UF cartridge provided
endotoxin LRVs of 3.7 and of 6.6
at low and high challenge levels,
respectively (see figure 2). It is critical Resistivity Before and After Sanitization
to measure the actual concentrations
of contaminants in both the feed and

Resistivity (MΩ-cm)
product streams to assure that the 19

final product purity is suitable for 18 Sanitization

the intended use of the water.3 Cycle Period
17 UF system
The integrity of the membrane and
16 UV/UF system
cartridge device are critical to ensure
the correct performance of the UF 15
cartridge, and UF cartridges should 0 20 40 60 80
undergo quality control testing. Water Used (Liters)
The Millipore UF cartridge is tested
via a direct challenge and an indirect Figure 3
membrane integrity test using
air flow or pressure decay.

Deionized, ultrafiltered water is used

for many biological applications Total Organic Carbon Before and After Sanitization
that are sensitive to high levels of
bacteria, proteins, metal ions, or
dissolved organics. Over time, 15
TOC (ppb)

contaminants can accumulate in the Sanitization UF system

UF cartridge and negatively affect 10 Cycle Period UV/UF system
water purity and experimental results.
Chemical sanitization is an effective
method of destroying bacterial and 0
organic contamination in a UF car- 0 20 40 60 80
tridge. However, during periodic, Water Used (Liters)

routine chemical sanitization, resis-

tivity decreases due to the high con- Figure 4
centration of ions from the sanitizing
agent. A properly designed UF car-
tridge allows efficient rinsing of ionic
Modern water systems include
residue from the cleaning and rapidly
automatic cleaning cycles that allow
returns to optimal resistivity and
simple and effective cleaning of the
organic purity (see figures 3 and 4).
UF cartridge without the manual
Reagent-grade sodium hydroxide has
preparation of chemical sanitizing
proven to be an effective cleaning
agent with the following benefits:
In certain applications, small, final
• Effective bacterial destruction
point-of-use UF devices are an
• Effective depyrogenation efficient method of processing small
(endotoxin reduction) volumes of water. These UF devices
• Efficient destruction of organic provide ultrafiltration on demand
contamination while minimizing maintenance and
• Reduced occurrence of chemical water consumption.
by-product formation
• Minimal residue or chemical
• Economical and easy-to-use
cleaning agent
Practical Uses Product water is also free of particles For Further Information
that can interfere with particle detec-
and Benefits of tion systems or obscure optical sen-
In the U.S. and Canada, call toll free
1-800-MILLIPORE (1-800-645-5476).
Ultrafiltered Water sors. UF membranes used in water
Or e-mail:
purification systems consistently pro-
Ultrafiltration used in conjunction For additional information call your
duce high-purity water when proper
with ultrapure deionization or UV nearest Millipore office.
user maintenance is performed.
oxidation provides water suitable On the Internet go to
for applications, such as: With a clear understanding of ultra-
filtration principles and applications,
• Biological buffers
one can select and properly use a AUSTRALIA Roma:
Tel. 1 800 222 111 Tel. (06) 52.03.600
• Mammalian cell culture water system that includes ultrafiltra- or (02) 9888 8999 Fax (06) 52.95.735
Fax (02) 9878 0788 JAPAN
• Bacterial cell culture tion in the laboratory. AUSTRIA Tel. (03) 5442-9711
Tel. (01) 877-8926 Fax (03) 5442-
• Immunoassay methods Fax (01) 877-1654 9736 Analytical
9737 BioProcess
• Protein chemistry REFERENCES Tel. +358 9 804 5110 KOREA
Fax +358 9 256 5660 Tel. (822) 551-0990
• PCR 1. Reagent Water Standard Specification BELGIUM AND Fax (822) 551-0228
• Blotting and hybridization D1193-99 for Reagent Water, Tel. (02) 726 88 40
Tel. 603-757 1322
Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Fax (02) 726 98 84
Fax 603-757 1711
• Nucleic acid sequencing BRAZIL MEXICO
American Society for Testing and Tel. (011) 548-7011
Tel. (525) 576-9688
Materials, West Coshohocken, PA, Fax (011) 548-7923
• Endotoxin-free water applications Fax (525) 576-8706
1999. Tel. 1-800-645-5476
• Nuclease-free water applications3 Fax 1-800-645-5439
Tel. 076-5022000
Fax 076-5022436
2. Monat, J.P., “The Synergies Between CHINA, PEOPLE'S
When ultrafiltration is integrated REPUBLIC OF
Ultrafiltration and Ion Exchange,” Tel. 22 67 82 53
into a point-of-use water purification Beijing:
Fax 22 66 04 60
Ultrapure Water, July/August, Tel. (8610)8519-1250
system, water may be purified on (8610)8519-1058 POLAND
pp. 33-38, Tall Oaks Publishing, Inc., Fax (8610)8519-1255 Tel. 22-669 12 25
demand guaranteeing the use of ⁄997. Guangzhou: 22-663 70 31
Tel. (8620) 8755-4021 Fax 22-663 70 33
Type I water and avoiding contami- Fax (8620) 8755-4350 PUERTO RICO
3. Technical Brief TB065, “Reducing Hong Kong: Tel. (787) 273-8495
nation found in bottled and stored Tel. (852) 2803-9111
Pyrogen Levels in Ultrapure Water,” Fax (852) 2513-0313
Fax (787) 747-6553
water sources.4 Millipore Corporation, ⁄996. Shanghai: SINGAPORE
Tel. (8621) 5306-9100 Tel. (65) 842 1822
Fax (8621) 5306-0838 Fax (65) 842 4988
4. Huang, Y.H., P. LeBlanc, V. Apostolou, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
et al., “The Comparison of Milli-Q® Tel. 02-2051 3841 Madrid:
02-2051 3842 Tel. 917 283 960
PF Plus Water to DEPC-Treated Water Fax 02-2051 4298 Fax 917 292 909
in the Analysis and Preparation of DENMARK Tel. 934 525 530
Tel. 70 10 00 23
RNA,” Biotechniques (19): 656-661, Fax 70 10 13 14
Fax 934 516 048
⁄995. EASTERN EUROPE, C.I.S., Tel. 08-628 6960
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Lit. No. TB1510ENUS Printed in U.S.A. 6/00 00-172
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