A method to continuously separate different particle types in a suspension is reported. Acoustic forces in a standing wave field were utilized to discriminate lipid particles from erythrocytes in whole blood. The presented technology proposes a new method of cleaning, i.e. removing lipid emboli from, shed blood recovered during cardiac surgery. Blood contaminated with lipid particles enter a laminar flow micro channel. Erythrocytes and lipid particles suspended in blood plasma are exposed to a half wavelength standing wave field orthogonal to the direction of flow as they pass through the channel. Because of differences in compressibility and density the two particle types move in different directions, the erythrocytes towards the centre of the channel and the lipid particles towards the side walls. The end of the channel is split into three outlet channels conducting the erythrocytes to the centre outlet and the lipid particles to the side outlets due to the laminar flow profile. The separation channel was evaluated in vitro using polyamide spheres suspended in water, showing separation efficiencies approaching 100%. The system was also evaluated on whole blood using tritium labelled lipid particles added to bovine blood. More than 80% of the lipid particles could be removed while approximately 70% of the erythrocytes were collected in one third of the original fluid volume. The study showed that the further reduced micro channel dimensions provided improved performance with respect to; (i) separation efficiency, (ii) actuation voltage, and (iii) volumetric throughput as compared to earlier work.
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