In 2013, a few customers approached us to develop a high-throughput microfluidic system which allows production of up to a tonne of highly monodisperse droplets, particles or emulsion a month.
Increasing numbers of customers in biology, drug discovery, food and cosmetics had witnessed the clear benefits of microfluidic flow processes compared with conventional batch methods such as increased yield and purity.
The drawback to adoption in pilot scale and industrial settings was the lack of a scale up method. This created a need for a scale-up platform powered by the same microfluidic technology that had successfully proved itself for low throughput. The common customer requirements were:
- Capability to produce tonnes of highly monodisperse droplets per month
- The system needed to be modular and flexible
- Easy to use – no tools
- Allow good optical access
- Offer excellent chemical compatibility
- Precise flow control
- Ability to handle high viscosity fluids
- Flexible product collection options – bulk collection as well as well as tube collection
The early custom system concepts included parallel chips, integrated hot and cold temperature zones, droplet monitoring software and LED lighting module as one product.
As the product development progressed, it became clear that for commercialisation, more flexibility was needed. The system needed to hold multiple chips, but allow individual chip control so that one chip could be changed without affecting the others.
The system needed to withstand pressures up to 10 bar and allow compatibility with Dolomite’s Pressure Pumps to ensure ultra smooth flow rates which enables production of highly monodisperse droplets. Modular scalability by increasing number of chips meant customers experimenting on small scale could now easily achieve high- throughout production.
The synthesized product could be delivered via tubing to other downstream equipment, or simply flow out of the edge of the chip into a collection vessel. The microfluidic chips would be available with hydrophilic, fluorophilic, or hydrophobic surfaces depending on the requirement of the application. Each individual module was to carry one chip with 7 junctions with a flow output of 3ml/min, enabling generation of droplets containing 2 reagents. 10 modules could then be assembled in parallel, increasing production to 30ml/min. Excellent optical access together with droplet monitoring software would ensure real-time data of droplet was available. The Telos® Droplet Manufacture System was born.
Prior to microfluidic droplet production, traditional batch chemistry was often used in scale-up, which resulted in polydisperse droplets with no control over the droplet size.
Since its launch, Telos® system has grown to be one of the best selling high-throughput droplet production systems. Read more here.