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Vaccine production in Europe

LEWA supplies high-precision diaphragm pumps for vaccine production

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous countries have been working hard to develop new vaccines against the virus. The production of the vaccine is connected with high requirements: There must be no dosing errors or fluctuations when conveying the ingredients used. In addition, dosing must be very pure and without any contamination.

For the production of vaccine a US pharmaceutical company based in Italy requested such pumps from LEWA-Nikkiso Italy S.r.l.. The technical requirements for these pumps were very high. At the same time the time for production and delivery was very short.The right solution was quickly found with the hermetically tight LEWA Ecodos model. "The hermetically tight pump with a quadruple PTFE sandwich diaphragm and diaphragm rupture monitoring guarantees 100% metering reliability, making it the first choice for vaccine producers." said Stefano Biolcati of LEWA-Nikkiso Italy S.r.l.

In order to meet the combination of different flow rates of 3600 l/h as well as 1500 l/h requested by the client, the LEWA team designed a set consisting of two LEG3 type Ecodos pumps and one LEF3 type pump. Since the active ingredients used must also be conveyed as pulsation-free as possible, the pumps were designed in the triplex variant. This ensures short pause intervals and thus the possibility to dispense with additional pulsation dampers. In order to ensure gentle and stable metering even in the low capacity range, the Ecodos models with a small NPSHr value offer a very good suction behavior. Because of that cavitation does not occur even with carrier fluids with low viscosity. The organic substances from which the vaccine is later obtained are also conveyed particularly gently, as the shearing effect during the metering process is very low. "An additional requirement was the need for extremely accurate metering over a wide range of capacities," Biolcati said. Particularly with the Ecodos pumps, fluids are  metered precisely the the milliliter and are conveyed in sufficient quantities. Later adjustments in the composition or production volume can also be implemented without any problems. Last but not least, the pumps had to enable a sterile manufacturing process and meet hygienic production requirements in order to exclude impurities or contamination of the fluids. Thanks to its compact design optimized for steam cleaning, the Ecodos variant also takes the difficult conditions in the GMP environment into account.

LEWA was able to deliver the order to the pharmaceutical company on time in December 2020. As of January 2021, the new units are in successful operation without any failures.


Picture: To avoid mixing errors, the pumps were designed in the triplex variant, i.e. with three pump heads per pump and motor. This meant that a pulsation damper was not necessary.

Source & Picture: LEWA GmbH

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