An experimental and numerical study of the flow and mass transfer in a model of the wearable artificial kidney dialyzer.

Research paper by Edmond E Rambod, Masoud M Beizai, Moshe M Rosenfeld

Indexed on: 26 May '10Published on: 26 May '10Published in: BioMedical Engineering OnLine


Published studies of the past decades have established that mass transfer across the dialyzer membrane is governed by diffusion, convection and osmosis. While the former is independent of the pressure in the liquids, the latter two are pressure dependent and are enhanced when the pressure difference across the membrane is increased. The goal of the present study is to examine the impact of pulsatile flow on the transport phenomena across the membrane of a high-flux dialyzer in a wearable artificial kidney (WAK) with a novel single small battery-operated pulsatile pump that drives both the blood and dialysate in a counter-phased manner, maximizing the trans-membrane pressure.Both in-vitro experimental and numerical tools are employed to compare the performance of the pulsatile WAK dialyzer with a traditional design of a single-channel roller blood pump together with a centrifugal pump that drives the dialysate flow. The numerical methods utilize the axisymmetric Navier-Stokes and mass transfer equations to model the flow in the fibers of the dialyzer.While diffusion is still the dominating transport regime, the WAK pump enhances substantially the trans-membrane pressure and thus increases mass convection that might be as high as 30% of the overall transfer. This increase is obtained due to the design of the pulsatile WAK pump that increases ultrafiltration by increasing the trans-membrane pressure.The experimental and numerical results revealed that when pumping at similar flow rates, a small battery-operated pulsatile pump provides clearances of urea and creatinine similar as or better than a large heavy AC-powered roller pump.