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Unique design adds value

Alfa Laval’s Unique Diaphragm Valve UltraPure helps German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer Healthcare keep its processes free from contamination.

DATE 2015-02-27

At Bayer HealthCare’s state-of-the-art fermentation plant in Wuppertal, Germany, quality and hygiene are paramount. As part of its efforts to ensure that its highly advanced lab-to-large-scale fermentation equipment is free from contamination, Bayer HealthCare relies on Alfa Laval’s Unique Diaphragm Valve UltraPure. It has done so for 20 years.

“We have used Unique DV-ST UltraPure valves for a long time, so we know that they are highly reliable and that the membranes are long-lasting,” says Horst Neuland, chief plant engineer in Wuppertal. “We appreciate the simplicity of the valve design and the flexibility of operation afforded by the valve actuators.” 

The plant uses Alfa Laval valves in its product lines, WFI water systems, demi water systems and steam systems for all its fermentation processes. The design, reliability, versatility and ease of maintenance make the Unique DV-ST UltraPure valve ideal for Bayer HealthCare’s high-purity fermentation applications.

The Unique Diaphragm Valve UltraPure range, with its forged and welded valve bodies, meets the requirements of most sterile and ultra-hygienic processes used in the biotechnology industry. These compact, lightweight valves are modular in design, enabling a wide range of purpose-built configurations. The range delivers documented, reliable and contaminant-free performance.

A key characeristic of the range is its compact, lightweight design, which enables Bayer HealthCare to cut material and installation costs. Weighing 62 percent less than conventional welded T or block valve bodies, the diaphragm valves do not add material stress to the installation. “This is by far the smallest and lightest product on the market,” says Neuland. “It makes installation and service easy and prevents unnecessary stress on the piping system.” Because the forged body of the Unique DV-ST UltraPure is machined from a single piece of metal, the risk of bacterial contamination is eliminated.

The range’s compactness also reduces the cost of sterilization, as less energy is required to heat and cool valves with lower mass and lower weight. And because less energy is required to heat the valves to the required temperature, less time is required to sterilize them. For a standard process line, sterilization is quick – generally about 20 to 40 minutes – depending on the application, temperature, media and other factors.

Thanks to the unique design that offers easy access, the valves’ membranes are easy to service, requiring about five to 10 minutes per valve for replacement. This reduces downtime and cuts maintenance costs.

An adjustable spring, standard on all diaphragm valve actuator types, drastically reduces wear, downtime and maintenance costs for the Unique DV-ST UltraPure. The spring relieves process pressure on the diaphragm and protects it against overstress.

“We don’t have to stop fermentation processes as often to change the membranes on these valves, and the valves themselves last longer,” says Neuland. “This translates to minimal downtime, lower overall costs, increased productivity and higher profitability.”