Adapting to a Changing Marketplace

August 1, 2009
David Walsh

LCGC North America

LCGC North America, LCGC North America-08-01-2009, Volume 27, Issue 8
Page Number: 592

By now, a reader would have to be living in a log cabin without electricity to be unaware of the acetonitrile shortage currently gripping the chromatography market. The causes, effects, and possible solutions have been documented thoroughly in the pages of LCGC and other industry journals, to the point where the basic facts are common knowledge: the shortage began with (among other factors) the depression of the automobile industry and the consequent reduced production levels. With ACN being a byproduct of this process, its production was reduced as well.

By now, a reader would have to be living in a log cabin without electricity to be unaware of the acetonitrile shortage currently gripping the chromatography market. The causes, effects, and possible solutions have been documented thoroughly in the pages of LCGC and other industry journals, to the point where the basic facts are common knowledge: the shortage began with (among other factors) the depression of the automobile industry and the consequent reduced production levels. With ACN being a byproduct of this process, its production was reduced as well.

David Walsh

Now, two recent industry events have provided an object lesson in one of capitalism's oldest (and truest) axioms: "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door." At PREP 2009 and SFC 2009, the response to these new market conditions appears to be underway, as bench chemists and vendors alike adapt and evolve. Both conferences saw a trend toward SFC instrumentation that can be connected directly to existing LC systems, making them SFC-friendly in hours, an effort to nullify the criticism that SFC technology is too costly. And at PREP in particular, the effort to optimize methods and increase efficiency was more prevalent than usual in both the technical sessions and vendor introductions, as ACN usage at the process scale can be extremely costly.

In short, we're seeing the free market functioning as it should. As market conditions unfold, new products and services are created to fill new needs and demands. In the end, the ACN shortage may or may not create the kinds of tectonic shifts in the scientific and business landscapes that previous economic crises have. But the current market response, with its various research and instrument adaptations, certainly makes for a fascinating era in chromatography's history. It should be very interesting to watch the coming months unfold.

David Walsh

Editor-in-Chief

David.Walsh@advanstar.com

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