Membrane processes are well-known for separating and fractionating suspensions in many industries, but suffer from particle accumulation on the membrane surface. Currently, there are new developments using microfluidic devices for cell/DNA sorting and fractionation. We anticipate these devices are also applicable to fractionation of polydisperse and concentrated suspensions (e.g. foods), and may potentially have fewer problems with particle accumulation compared to membranes. This review article presents an overview of relevant microfluidic devices. We focus on their performance with respect to concentrated suspensions, as one finds in food industry. We give quantitative estimates on their yield, selectivity, and the potential for large-scale application. From this evaluation follows that deterministic ratchets seem most promising.
- field-flow fractionation
- deterministic lateral displacement
- continuous particle separation
- colloidal particles
- dielectrophoretic separation