Enantiomer separation by ultrafiltration of enantioselective micelles in multistage systems

P. Overdevest

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The Food and Bioprocess Engineering Group of Wageningen University, The Netherlands, is developing a new enantiomer separation system that is based on ultrafiltration (UF) of enantioselective micelles containing chiral selector molecules. Enantiomer molecules are optical isomers (mirror images), and can have different biological activities. This has forced pharmaceutical, food and agrochemical industries to develop methods for the production of optically pure compounds. This thesis shows a promising new technique to separate enantiomers at industrial scale.

During the separation process, the selector molecules preferentially bind one enantiomer of a pair of enantiomers. In UF unbound enantiomers pass the membrane, while the micelles are retained. Since one single UF stage is inadequate for nearly complete (99+%) separations of both enantiomers, the separation has been studied in a cascaded system consisting of multiple UF stages. Both the equilibrium and the kinetics of (de)complexation have been modelled by a Langmuir model and a linear driving force model, respectively. The separation model has been validated by a cascaded system containing five stages and by a simulated cascade containing 60 stages.

Calculations with the model have shown that a reduction in affinity allows to proportionally increase the feed concentration of the enantiomers into the cascade. An increase of the selectivity up to 10 strongly reduces the required number of stages necessary to attain a high purity of both enantiomers; higher values do not greatly reduce the number of stages. In general, the throughput of this type of separation processes can be optimized by weakening the interactions between selector and substrate.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • van 't Riet, K., Promotor
  • Keurentjes, J.T.F., Promotor, External person
  • van der Padt, Albert, Promotor
Award date4 Sept 2000
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058082749
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2000


  • ultrafiltration
  • micelles
  • enantiomers


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