Three Phase Centrifuges for Separation of Proteins in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing


Three Phase Centrifuges for Separation of Proteins in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing


Biopharmaceutical manufacturing involves the production of therapeutic proteins using various techniques. One crucial step in this process is the separation of proteins from other cellular components. To accomplish this, three-phase centrifuges play a vital role. These high-speed machines utilize the principles of centrifugal force to separate proteins effectively. In this article, we will explore the working principle of three-phase centrifuges and their significance in biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes.

Working Principle:

Three-phase centrifuges work on the principle of density-based separation. They exploit the differences in density among different components present in the biopharmaceutical mixture. The machine consists of a rotatable cylindrical bowl capable of high-speed rotation. The mixture is fed into the centrifuge, and the heavy phase settles at the bottom, light phase forms the upper layer, and the intermediate phase is sandwiched between them.

Construction and Components:

Three-phase centrifuges are typically constructed using stainless steel due to its corrosion resistance and suitability for pharmaceutical applications. The machine consists of a main body, a drive system, a bowl assembly, and an automatic control system. The bowl assembly houses the separation process, while the drive system provides the necessary rotational force.

Separation Process:

The separation process in a three-phase centrifuge involves three different layers – the heavy phase, the intermediate phase, and the light phase. Once the mixture enters the centrifuge, it undergoes high-speed rotation. The solid particles with higher density settle at the bowl's bottom, forming the heavy phase. The liquid phase with lower density forms the upper layer, known as the light phase. Between these layers, a middle layer is formed, known as the intermediate phase, which contains proteins, cell debris, and other particulates.

Advantages in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing:

The use of three-phase centrifuges provides several advantages in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Firstly, these machines offer a high degree of separation efficiency, ensuring a pure protein product. Additionally, they have the capability to handle large sample volumes, allowing for increased production rates. Moreover, three-phase centrifuges can be easily automated, leading to improved process control and higher reproducibility.

Application in Protein Purification:

Protein purification is a crucial step in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Three-phase centrifuges find extensive applications in this process. They effectively separate proteins from other impurities such as cell debris, lipids, and nucleic acids. Additionally, these centrifuges can handle various types of proteins, including monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, and enzymes, with high efficiency and reliability.

Challenges and Future Perspectives:

While three-phase centrifuges offer numerous advantages, they also pose certain challenges. One major concern is the potential damage to shear-sensitive proteins due to the high centrifugal forces. Despite this, the continuous advancements in centrifuge technology aim to mitigate these challenges. Future developments may include the incorporation of innovative designs and materials to further enhance separation efficiency and reduce the risk of protein damage.


In the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, the separation of proteins is a critical process that requires reliable and efficient equipment. Three-phase centrifuges have proven to be indispensable in achieving high-quality protein purification. With their ability to separate proteins from other cellular components, these machines play a crucial role in ensuring the production of safe and effective biopharmaceutical products. Continuous research and development in centrifuge technology will further advance the field, paving the way for improved protein separation techniques in the future.


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