New HPLC Systems and Related Products Introduced at Pittcon 2014: A Brief Review

Mar 31, 2014

Noteworthy high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and related products introduced at Pittcon 2014 in Chicago, Illinois, and in the year prior are highlighted here. This installment summarizes the technical aspects of new HPLC systems, modules, and chromatographic software as well as other product extensions. Also included is a section on several new mass spectrometers, which are viewed as HPLC detectors. The focus of this review is on innovative products and new features that have potential impacts on HPLC practitioners.

The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) is the world's largest conference and exposition on laboratory science. This year Pittcon was held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, from March 2–6, 2014 (prior years held in Chicago were 2009 and 2007). Hosting Pittcon in Chicago makes plenty of sense because it is the third largest city in the United States and a major industrial center in the Midwest. It has many renowned restaurants and excellent deep-dish pizza. However, holding a conference in the "Windy City" in early March is not without risks. I recall that on my way to Pittcon 2007, O'Hare International Airport was closed minutes after my plane landed because of a small snow storm. Moreover, the flights of two of my invited speakers were turned back that same day.

Things were pretty tough this year with the coldest weather on record in decades. Temperatures hovered around single digits with many snow showers, sleet, or freezing rain during the conference week. Somehow, folks from all over the world still managed to make it there. Pittcon 2014 attracted more than 17,000 attendees from over 90 countries. There were more than 2000 technical papers, including those from plenary lectures, invited or contributed symposia, workshops, posters, networking sessions, 114 short courses, and an enormous exposition with more than 900 vendors from over 30 countries displaying at ~1900 booths. Note that more than 20% of the attendees and exhibitors are non-US-based, making Pittcon a truly international conference.

Recent Trends in HPLC Equipment

Pittcon 2014 happened to be another lean year for new high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system introductions because all major manufacturers already had ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC) offerings in prior years (1,2). The global HPLC equipment market continues to be dominated by several major manufacturers, leaving scant pickings for any new entrants. The high cost of sales and marketing as well as the difficulties in setting up global service support further discourage any newcomers to the competitive and mature market. Nevertheless, the HPLC market remained quite active this past year with 27 "new" items reported in this review.


Table I: Summary of new HPLC product introductions at Pittcon 2014 or in the year prior
Table I lists new HPLC product introductions (arranged alphabetically by vendor names) at Pittcon 2014 or during the prior year, followed by descriptions and commentaries on each product, categorized as systems, modules (including several new mass spectrometer offerings), data systems, software, and related products (capillary electrophoresis [CE] and supercritical fluid chromatography [SFC]).