Physical phenomena play an important role in membrane processes for blood purification. They largely determine the separation performance of these devices and they interact with chemical and biological phenomena to determine their biocompatibility, or lack thereof, in the clinical setting. In the first part of this paper, analyses of physical phenomena which determine the separation and purification characteristics are reviewed for several processes, including hemodialysis, hemofiltration, combined hemodialysis and ultra-filtration, and membrane plasmapheresis with cross-flow microfiltration. Special attention is given to transport of high-molecular weight solutes in hemodialysis, for use in subsequent analyses, and to the factors which determine filtrate flux in membrane plasmapheresis, because recent findings in this area provide an understanding of filtration processes in general. The second part concerns the problem of biocompatibility, especially as manifested in renal prostheses. After reviewing some of the pathways to bioincompatibility, exploratory analyses are presented using relatively simple models. The objective of these analyses is to provide an initial quantitative framework for examining the likelihood of monocyte secretion of interleukin-1 being stimulated by various routes. Issues examined, for which illustrative calculations are presented, include (1) transport of endotoxin fragments across regenerated cellulose and other membranes, (2) anaphylatoxin C5a concentrations in conventional hemodialysis and (3) the effects of equilibrium and reaction phenomena, ultrafiltration, diffusive membrane permeation and membrane adsorption on the disposition of C5a which is generated at the membrane surface.

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