The use of pulsed blood flow in membrane plasmapheresis permits enhancement of plasma filtration yet may result in high levels of hemolysis due to large increases in instantaneous transmembrane pressure (TMP). This work investigates the occurrence of hemolysis as a function of TMP and wall shear rates (γw) for both steady and pulsed blood flow conditions. Two types of hollow fiber filters with identical polypropylene membranes but different lengths and membrane areas (0.1 and 0.25 m2) were tested. Fresh citrated bovine blood was circulated through the fibers at various blood flowrates and TMP in a single pass circuit using a pulsation generator, made of a single roller peristaltic pump. The free hemoglobin concentration of the plasma, Hbm, was measured from permeate samples collected at each set of TMP and γw conditions. It was found that the net hemolysis generated by the filtration was proportional to the membrane area. This justified the introduction of an hemolysis index, IH, equal to the plasma hemoglobin per unit membrane area. The boundary for the occurrence of hemolysis was thus defined by setting IH = 30 mg/ dl.m2. For both steady and pulsed flow conditions the hemolysis boundaries were found to be straight lines in the TMP-γw plane. They were identical for the two filters under steady flow but different for pulsed flow. At the same time mean wall shear rates hemolysis occurred at a lower time mean TMP under pulsed flow conditions than under steady flow conditions.

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