Simulated Moving Bed (SMB)

Simulated Moving Bed (SMB)

Simulated Moving Bed (SMB)

The Next Step in Chromatography!

Continuous counter-current chromatography, also known as Simulated Moving Bed (SMB) is a highly efficient separation technique in the field of preparative chromatography, for the pharmaceutical industry, production of fine chemicals, and in the field of bioengineering.

Why Simulated Moving Bed?

Simulated Moving Bed is a method in process chromatography that enables pseudo binary mixtures to be separated into pure substances or fractions with maximum yield and purity. By repeated use of the SMB process each partial fraction can be separated into a further fraction - up to binary substance mixtures. Typically, the SMB process is set up in advance for a two component mixture. Following this, both substances can be immediately extracted in pure form - up to 1,000 kg per year.

Where can a SMB separation be used?

The SMB principle for continuous extraction of pure substances on a preparative scale is successfully used in several areas of chemistry and biochemistry. The yearly production of the offered systems is between 100 and 1,000 kg per year. SMB is applicable in:

Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Chiral compounds such as cis-trans phytol, steroids, antibiotics
Food chemistry
Fatty acids, carbohydrate mixtures such as sucrose/molasses or fructose/glucose
Peptides, phenylalanine, citric acid
Petro chemistry
C8-hydrocarbons such as xylene/toluene

When is a suitable time to set up a SMB process?

The extraction of pure substances (valuable substances) using a SMB system is offered after the required amount of a respective substance has been reached. Furthermore, the application of a SMB process is linked to the following prerequisites:

  • Two-component mixture (binary mixture)
  • Good solubility in the mobile phase
  • It must be possible to make an isocratic separation
  • Retention time of the substance must be under 20 minutes
  • Knowledge of the adsorption isotherms

Advantages of SMB technology compared to classical batch chromatography

  • The entire stationary phase is continuously covered with the mixture to be separated which produces a much higher productivity.
  • A 90% reduction in the demand for solvent due to solvent recycling.
  • High plate counts or particle sizes are no longer required, reducing packing material by 80%.
  • Extract and raffinate are extracted (in high concentrations) which make it easier to remove solvent.
  • The patented multifunctional valve enables an extremely low dead volume.

Operation scheme for interpreting and carrying out a SMB separation

  • Determine the phase volume ratio or porosity between the stationary and mobile phase.
  • Determine the adsorption isotherms for each component based on the overload chromatogram from each component or the mixture.
  • Determine the isotherm parameters using the IsothermFit® software.
  • Define the process (hardware).
  • Simulate the process and optimize the interpretation using the SMB_Guide® simulation software.
  • Carry out a continuous "SMB separation".
  • Optimize the productivity.

Comparison between a SMB and preparative HPLC system

Preparative System
SMB System
Separation process
Batch method
Stationary phase
Only effective to a fractional part
Maximum charge
Mobile phase
Higher consumption
90% less consumption by recycling the solvent
Several components
2-3 components
Individual substances
Separation of a fraction from a mixture (can even be a mixture again)
Operating mode
Isocratic or gradient operation
Isocratic (step gradient possible)
Process simulation

KNAUER's SMB systems "in use" references

In the past several years KNAUER has been able to win over the confidence of several large research and development corporations. This is specifically true with our efficient and reliable SMB systems. SMB systems are being operated daily, for example at:

  • ICT, Mumbai, India (since 2012)
  • IICT, Hyderabad, India (since 2006)
  • Technikrom, Evanston, Illinois, USA (since 2005)
  • Fluka Chemicals, Buchs, Switzerland (since 2004)
  • University of Applied Science, Winterthur, Switzerland (since 2004)
  • University of Shenjang, China (since 2003)
  • Gedeon Richter, Budapest, Hungary (since 2003)
  • NCL, Pune, India (since 2002)
  • Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea (since 2002)
  • Schering Plough Corp., New Jersey USA (since 2002)
  • Merck Rahway, New Jersey USA (since 2001)
  • Dow Chemicals Midland, Michigan USA (since 2001)
  • EISAI Research Institute, Andover, Massachusetts (since 2001)
  • Pfizer, Holland, Michigan, USA (since 2001)
  • Wuxi University, China (since 2000)
  • Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany (since 1999)
  • Goedecke Parke Davis, (Pfizer) Freiburg, Germany (since 1998)

Our Product Range


Developed by the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems (Magdeburg, Germany) the ModiCon technique is being distributed exclusively by KNAUER. With the ModiCon, throughput and purity can be further increased by modulating the inlet concentration.

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Pilot SMB system CSEP C9116

The Pilot SMB System CSEP C9116 is designed for the extraction of pure substances in gram-scale. Special emphasis is put on the continuous operation mode and high productivity. The system works thermostatically and can be operated with up to 16 SMB columns of the same type. The patented multifunctional valve drastically reduces the dead volume and provides for the compact design.

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Production SMB system CSEP C9812

The Production SMB system CSEP C9812 is designed for extraction of pure substances in kilogram-scale. The system works thermostatically and can be operated with upto 12 SMB separation columns of the same type. Due to its mode of operation the system works very efficiently.

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