Breakthrough performance of plasmid DNA adsorption on ion-exchange membrane columns was theoretically and experimentally investigated using batch and fixed-bed systems. System dispersion curves showed the absence of flow non-idealities in the experimental arrangement. Breakthrough curves (BTC) were significantly affected by inlet flow rate and solute concentration. In the theoretical analysis, a model was integrated by the serial coupling of the membrane transport model and the system dispersion model. A transport model that considers finite kinetic rate and column dispersed flow was used in the study. A simplex optimization routine, coupled to the solution of the partial differential model equations, was employed to estimate the maximum adsorption capacity constant, the equilibrium desorption constant, and the forward interaction rate constant, which are the parameters of the membrane transport model. The analysis shows that as inlet concentration or flow rate increases, the deviation of the model from the experimental behavior decreases. The BTCs displacement as inlet concentration increases was explained in terms of a greater degree of column saturation reached and more efficient operation accomplished. The degree of column saturation was not influenced by inlet flow rate. It was necessary to consider in the column model the slight variation in the BTC produced by the axial dispersion, in order to accomplish the experimental curve dispersion. Consequently, the design criteria that for Pe > 40 the column axial dispersion can be neglected should be taken with precaution.
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