New Chromatography Columns and Accessories at Pittcon 2014, Part II

May 01, 2014

Part II of our yearly report on new products introduced at Pittcon. This installment of "Column Watch"covers gas chromatography columns, supercritical fluid chromatography columns, and products for sample preparation, including small benchtop instruments.

Pittcon 2014 Conference and Expo (less formally known as the 65th Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy) was held once again in the gigantic McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, on March 2–6, 2014. The purpose of this report is to provide information about many of the new separation consumables and accessory products that were displayed at Pittcon 2014. In some cases, products that were introduced during 2013 but after Pittcon 2013 (1,2) may be included for reasons of completeness. The information is based on manufacturers' responses to a questionnaire mailed in early 2014. Because of space limitations and the fact that some manufacturers did not respond to the questionnaire, this report cannot be considered an exhaustive listing of all new products that were introduced in Chicago. However, over the years, these Pittcon introduction summaries have provided a good source of information that would be difficult for one individual to gather during the four days of the exhibition. In addition, the products introduced have shown definite correlations to current research, development, and application activity in the separation sciences.

In last month's coverage (3), I described new introductions in the areas of HPLC columns for reversed-phase LC, hydrophilic-interaction chromatography (HILIC), ion-exchange and ion chromatography, and size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). Specialty columns for specific types of analyses were also covered last month. This month, I look at gas chromatography (GC) and supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) columns, sample preparation products, and hardware, accessories and small tabletop instruments, mainly for sample preparation. For a synopsis of the overall trends seen at Pittcon, please refer to part I (3).

As in previous years, columns and other products recommended by their manufacturers primarily for biomolecule separations or sample preparation are denoted in the tables with the designation BIO. Some of these products may be used for general high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separations and for sample preparation as well, but their main emphasis is for biological samples.

Gas Chromatography and Supercritical Fluid Chromatography

The year 2014 was the sparsest ever for new GC column introductions. Only two manufacturers supplied data on their new columns for Pittcon: Agilent Technologies and J&K Scientific.

Agilent's offerings included a new line of porous open tubular (PLOT) capillary columns called PLOT PT. These unique columns virtually eliminate particle shredding through an integrated particle trapping technology on both ends of the column — giving the advantage of no need for cumbersome (and leaky) unions or downstream filters. The integrated particle trap is built directly into the column as one continuous length of fused silica. Overall, signal spiking and unnecessary downtime because of loose particles in the flow stream is less of a concern in the analysis of light gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are major applications of PLOT columns.


Figure 1: Chroma tograms of (a) a cracked gasoline sample and (b) sulfur compound standards. Column: 60 m × 0.32 mm, 4.2-µm df Agilent J&W DB-Sulfur SCD; carrier gas: helium, constant flow at 2.8 mL/min; inlet temperature: 275 °C; split ratio: 10:1; oven temperature program: 35 °C for 3 min, 35–250 °C at 10 °C/min, then 250 °C for 10 min; injection volume: 1 µL. (Courtesy of Agilent Technologies.)
Agilent's second introduction in the GC area was the J&W DB-Sulfur SCD column. With dimensions of 40, 60, or 70 m × 0.32 or 0.53 mm and a film thickness of 0.75–4.3 µm, the DB-Sulfur SCD column is designed to work with sulfur chemluminescence detection (SCD) to provide lower bleed performance than polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) phases such as ASTM D 5623 and 5504. These phases typically bleed causing SCD ceramic tube fouling and thus more downtime and maintenance requirements. The new phase also provides improved peak shape compared to older phases. Custom configurations are available. To illustrate the capability of this new column, Figure 1 shows a separation of an actual cracked gasoline sample, along with sulfur compound standards that contain about 63.5% aromatic hydrocarbons and 25% nonaromatic hydrocarbons. Monitoring sulfur compounds in petroleum-related products is very important to protect expensive catalysts and to ensure product quality. Individual sulfur compounds in the cracked gasoline sample were identified by retention times and confirmed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). In the example of Figure 1, the very selective Sulfur Chemiluminescence Detector (SCD, Agilent Technologies) was used. In should be noted that trace levels of these volatile sulfur compounds are very difficult to detect and successful analysis requires a very inert flow path and a low-bleed stationary phase.

J&K Scientific is a Canadian company based in Nova Scotia that makes specialty columns. The company's newest introduction is the NSP-EUPAH GC capillary column. This column has a wall-coated proprietary stationary phase designed to separate EU and US EPA priority polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) analysis. The column can provide baseline separation of the EU 15 + 1 PAH on short columns of lengths of 8–15 m with analysis times of 25–40 min. Some unique characteristics are complete separation of triphenylene from chrysene (resolution >10) and benz(a)anthracene. The column can also provide a separation of critical isomer pairs of US EPA Method 610 Priority Pollutant PAH method. In all, separation of 32 EU and US EPA priority compounds with interfering compounds and isomers can be achieved.

One dedicated column for SFC was introduced by ES Industries. Typical of columns specific to SFC, the GreenSep Triamine column resembles a regular HPLC column but with a special triamine bonded phase that is not normally used in LC. The silica-based bonded phase material (120 Å pore size) can be purchased in stainless steel packed columns in sizes ranging from microbore to preparative, as well as in guard column format and in bulk. Particle sizes range from 1.9 µm to 20 µm. It is recommended for the separation of polar compounds such as amines without the use of additives in the mobile phase.