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Continuous countercurrent centrifugal partition extraction is a special type of countercurrent extraction and is used for purification of mixtures. The principle is based on the discontinuous centrifugal partitioning chromatography (CPC), where one liquid phase is held stationary in chambers by a centrifugal field, while a second liquid phase is passed through it. The separation of a mixture of substances using CPC is discontinuous using the chromatography principle.
With the continuous countercurrent centrifugal partition extraction (CCPC) both phases are conveyed in countercurrent simultane-ously through the chambers, which enables continuous separation.
The continuous mode of operation is achieved in that the individual chambers are connected to each other by two channels (one channel for each mobile phase) forming a chamber cascade. Valves with short opening cycles regulate the flow direction of each phase from the rotor using a specially developed switching of the input and output currents, so as to enable a countercurrent over the entire chamber cascade. The mixture to be separated is thereby continuously conveyed to the middle of the chamber cascade. The separation effect occurs between the two mobile phases according to the partition coefficients of the individual components.
An advantage of CCPC is the design of combined "mixer and settler units" on a small scale. The applied centrifugal field also allows for an unstable phase system to be used. The degree of separation can be easily set by the number of chambers and the separation performance by the chamber size.
CPC and CCPC are processes that are used in the preparative purification of chemical and biotechnological products and for natural product extracts.
CPC in batch mode could previously only purify limited quantities, which was why the procedure could only be employed for laboratory applications despite its good separation performance. The new extractor allows the CPC separation principle to be used continuously for the first time, making the process of interest for large-scale applications. The process represents a particularly fast and flexible method of separating chemical and biotechnology products as well as natural materials.
An international patent application has been filed on the concept. The method has been successfully tested.
TU Dortmund is looking for licensees and partners for further development of the concept.