Acute Liver Failure (ALF) is a devastating ailment with a high mortality rate and limited treatment alternatives. This study presents a methodology for the design and development of a bio-artificial bioreactor to be used in a Bio-Artificial Liver Support System. The system will ultimately be used either to bridge a patient to orthotopic liver transplant (OLT), the only current cure for end stage ALF, or spontaneous recovery. Methods to optimize and visualize the flow and related mass transfer in the BR are presented. The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and simple testing methodology is applied with emphasis on modeling the flow conditions in the BR. The bioreactor (BR) used in the Bio-Artificial Liver Support System (BALSS), currently under-going animal trials at the University of Pretoria, was modeled and simulated for the flow conditions in the device. Two different perfusion steps were modeled including the seeding of hepatocyte cells and later the clinical perfusion step. It was found that the BR geometry was not optimal with “dead spots” and regions of retarded flow. This would restrict the effective transport of nutrients and oxygen to the cells. The different perfusion rates for the seeding and clinical perfusion steps allowed for different velocity contours with cells seeing inconsistent flow patterns and mass transfer gradients. An optimized BR design is suggested and simulated, that effectively reduces the areas of retarded flow (dead spots) and increases the flow speed uniformly through the BR to an order of magnitude similar to that found in the sinusoidal range. The scaffolding volume was also decreased to allow a larger local cell density promoting cell-cell interaction. Finally a summarized design table for the design of a hepatic BR is presented.
Dissertation (MEng (Mechanical))--University of Pretoria, 2008.