Filtering Biopharmaceuticals with Diatomaceous Earth and Perlite

Filtering Biopharmaceuticals

Biopharmaceutical filtration is a critical process dedicated to ensuring the purity, safety, and effectiveness of biopharmaceutical products. This intricate filtration process plays a central role in the production of medicines and therapies that are not only life-saving but also demand the highest levels of quality control. Today, we’re taking a look at how diatomaceous earth and perlite are used in filtering biopharmaceuticals.

Why Filtering Biopharmaceuticals Is Essential

Filtration plays a crucial role in various aspects of biopharmaceuticals. Its applications encompass a wide range of functions, including:

  1. Blood Plasma Fractionation: The process of separating various components of blood plasma.
  2. Haze Removal: Eliminating cloudiness or haziness in biopharmaceutical solutions.
  3. Endotoxin Reduction: Reducing the presence of endotoxins, which can be harmful when present in pharmaceutical products.
  4. Final Sterile Membrane Protection: Safeguarding sterile membranes to maintain product purity.
  5. Buffer/Solvent Prefiltration: Filtration prior to using buffers or solvents to ensure they are free from impurities.
  6. Chromatography Column Protection: Preserving the integrity of chromatography columns during bioprocessing.
  7. Post-Fermenter Clarification/Cell Separation: Clarifying and separating cells after the fermentation process.
  8. Reduction of Contaminating DNA: Minimizing the presence of unwanted DNA contaminants in biopharmaceutical preparations.

Failing to properly filter biopharmaceuticals can have grave consequences. Unfiltered products may contain contaminants that jeopardize patient safety and reduce drug efficacy. This can lead to adverse reactions, infections, and production inefficiencies, negatively impacting both patients and pharmaceutical companies. Proper filtration is essential for ensuring product quality and patient well-being in the biopharmaceutical industry. Plus, inadequate filtration can result in clogged equipment, reduced product shelf life, and production inefficiencies, ultimately impacting the pharmaceutical company’s reputation and bottom line.

Filtering Biopharmaceuticals with Minerals

Diatomaceous Earth

Usage: Diatomaceous earth is used for the filtration of antibiotics and other active enzymes, proteins, and contaminants in pharmaceuticals.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) consists of the fossilized remains of diatoms, tiny aquatic plants that thrived in oceans and lakes millions of years ago. When viewed under a microscope, DE reveals its diverse shapes and a honeycomb-like structure, which efficiently captures solid particles. Diatomaceous earth filter cakes are highly regarded for their numerous filtration advantages:

  • Extended flow rate
  • Light weight, low density
  • Inert state
  • Maintains the free flow of liquid


Usage: Perlite is used in other pharmaceutical applications including the filtration of enzymes, antibiotics, and Epsom salt.

Perlite is an amorphous mineral consisting of fused sodium potassium aluminum silicate. In its natural state, it’s a dense, glassy rock formed by volcanic rock. Crushed expanded perlite particles present a maze of microscopic pathways that can be used for filtration in a variety of industries and products, including the biopharmaceutical industry. It is revered as a depth filtration method because of its numerous benefits, including:

  • Ease of application
  • Inert state
  • Insolubility
  • Useable with standard equipment
  • Lower weight than other types of filters
  • Filter cakes remain porous and do not compact

Mechanical Filtration—Not Chemical

Mechanical filtration and chemical filtration are distinct methods for purifying liquids, including those in the biopharmaceutial industry. Mechanical filtration relies on physical barriers, like diatomaceous earth and perlite, to physically capture and remove particles from a liquid. In contrast, chemical filtration employs chemical reactions or absorbents to chemically bind with and remove specific contaminants.

Perlite and diatomaceous earth can be employed in biopharmaceutical filtration through two main techniques: pre-coat and body feed:

  • Pre-coat method: The pre-coat process requires water to be mixed with your filter aid, like perlite or diatomaceous earth. As the mixture flows through the filter cloth, your mineral coats the top, setting the stage for filtration.
  • Body feed method: Requires the continuous addition of mineral filter aid throughout the entirety of the filtration process. Body feed filtration maintains a separate tank for the mineral filter aid. This filter aid is then metered into the slurry line continuously, ensuring a consistent and ongoing filtration process. This approach is particularly useful in applications where a sustained and thorough filtration is required to maintain product quality and purity.

Choose Dicalite Management Group for Your Filtration Needs.

We offer various grades of perlite for high-quality filter aid use and there are many options for diatomaceous earth filtration. Use our Product Search Database to search and find your mineral solution and all the technical information related to it. At any moment in time, you can access our products’ Technical Data Sheets (TDS), Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and sales support materials (when applicable). Finding the right mineral solution is easy: simply apply filters so you only see the products relevant to you. You can also call us today at 866-728-3303 to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives.

If you’d like to learn more about using minerals for filtration, download our free e-book A World of Filtration Experience today.

Join Our Mailing List

Our blog offers insight and information about new and exciting uses for perlite, diatomaceous earth, and vermiculite deriving from years of research and application. From passive fire resistance to mineral depth filtration, by subscribing to our mailing list, you will receive the latest information surrounding the Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite brands and products.

Join Our Mailing List

Harvest Hero: Growing Media & Soil AmendmentsShop Today