Are axial and radial flow chromatography different?

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Radial flow chromatography can be a solution for scaling up a packed bed chromatographic process to larger processing volumes. In this study we compared axial and radial flow affinity chromatography both experimentally and theoretically. We used an axial flow column and a miniaturized radial flow column with a ratio of 1.8 between outer and inner surface area, both with a bed height of 5 cm. The columns were packed with affinity resin to adsorb BSA. The average velocity in the columns was set equal. No difference in performance between the two columns could be observed. To gain more insight into the design of a radial flow column, the velocity profile and resin distribution in the radial flow column were calculated. Using mathematical models we found that the breakthrough performance of radial flow chromatography is very similar to axial flow when the ratio between outer and inner radius of the radial flow column is around 2. When this ratio is increased, differences become more apparent, but remain small. However, the ratio does have a significant influence on the velocity profile inside the resin bed, which directly influences the pressure drop and potentially resin compression, especially at higher values for this ratio. The choice between axial and radial flow will be based on cost price, footprint and packing characteristics. For small-scale processes, axial flow chromatography is probably the best choice, for resin volumes of at least several tens of litres, radial flow chromatography may be preferable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
JournalJournal of Chromatography. A, Including electrophoresis and other separation methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • affinity-chromatography
  • immunoaffinity chromatography
  • beds
  • purification
  • performance
  • column


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