Ultrahigh-Pressure Size-Exclusion Separations of Engineering Plastics: Challenges and Opportunities
Ultrahigh-pressure size-exclusion chromatography (UHPSEC) can potentially offer a new direction and overcome some of the disadvantages (for example, limited resolution and long analysis time) associated with conventional SEC analysis. UHPSEC is based on using sub-3-µm silica-organic hybrid particles under elevated pressures (often above 400 bar) to improve the separation efficiency and increase analysis speed. In spite of the benefits promised by the chromatographic theory, there are some uncertainties that may limit the proliferation of UHPSEC in polymer analysis. As a result of possible issues associated with the use of a different stationary phase - including secondary interactions and polymer degradation - it is unclear whether UHPSEC will provide results comparable to those of traditional SEC methods. In this article, the advantages and challenges of UHPSEC for the analysis of different engineering thermoplastics are discussed, as well as a comparison of results obtained with UHPSEC and conventional SEC.