Bioprocess Pharmaceutical Filtration

The Role of Prefiltration in the Optimization of Bioprocess Filtration Systems

PrefilterFiltration is commonly used in biopharmaceutical manufacturing in order to control bioburden within the production process, and the appropriate use of prefilters can help to optimize filtration costs.


By employing a correctly selected and sized prefilter and positioning this upstream of a sterilizing-grade or bioburden control filter, the required area of these membrane filters can be significantly reduced.


The advantage of this? The cost of operating a prefilter and sterile filter with a low membrane area is generally less than the cost of operating high membrane area sterile filters without an upstream filter.


Key filtration requirements include:

  • High throughput
  • High capacity
  • Minimum system size
  • Minimum cost


Prefiltration media and applications

Prefilters suitable for use in biopharmaceutical applications can contain different types of filtration media – the appropriate media for use will depend on the application, as shown in the table below.

Selection table





Sizing prefilters

Sizing prefilters is technically difficult and time consuming – it can therefore be more effective for sizing to be performed on behalf of customers by filtration suppliers’ technical support groups.


Recommendations on the sizing of filtration systems that require prefilters:

  • Establish the requirement for prefiltration by sizing the downstream membrane filter.
  • Collate all existing relevant data on the properties of the process stream and perform experiments to determine the concentration and particle size of particulates and the viscosity of the process solution.
  • Select likely prefilter media based on the process stream and whether retention, compatibility or capacity will be an issue.
  • Select prefilter grades you expect to be most effective at protecting the membrane filter. For instance, a 0.2 micron filter is likely to require a prefilter with a micron rating of 0.5-0.6 microns, while a high capacity membrane filter with an integral prefiltration layer may benefit from a prefilter with a more open pore structure. 


Parker domnick hunter's pharmaceutical prefilter range includes:

PROCLEAR PP polypropylene prefilters

PROCLEAR GF glass fibre prefilters

PROCLEAR GP glass fibre/polypropylene prefilters


A full version of this article appeared in issue one of Parker domnick hunter's Your Partner in Bioprocessing magazine


Parker domnick hunter, specialize in automating and controlling single-use processes. By integrating sensory and automation technology into a process, a manufacturer can control the fluid flow more effectively, ensuring the quality of the final product. 

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Related content

What is Sterilizing Filtration and Why is it Important?

How to Select the Right Filter for Your Bioprocess


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