sTEm–at-Work Puzzle #50: Membrane Technology Decision

A technician with a drug manufacturing company is responsible for the installation and operation of membrane-based separation equipment that performs the last step in the production of a drug the company makes. That purification step uses a membrane to separate the drug from its reaction by-products. The tech understands that the separation is diffusion-driven which means that drug moves from a solution with contaminates on one side of the membrane into a liquid with no contaminates on the other side of the member. Thus, after the tech installs the equipment and it begins to operate she knows there will be no drug in the pure liquid at the instant the equipment is turned on.

The tech also knows that there is a sensor in the pure liquid that only monitors the increase in the number of drug molecules as a function of time. Since (once it is installed) this equipment is expected to operate 24 hours a day, the sensor data collected is used to monitor the equipment’s performance and indicate when there might be maintenance issues as the equipment keeps running.  The tech observed the data shown (in the graph below) immediately after the equipment was turned on for the first time.

Did Tech allow the equipment to keep running? Yes or No. Post your answers below the blog post, or on

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