Flash Chromatography

March 1, 2020
Glenn Cudiamat

Strategic Directions International Inc., Los Angeles, California, USA.

LCGC North America

LCGC North America, LCGC North America-03-01-2020, Volume 38, Issue 3

Flash chromatography is a purification technique that is designed for rapid separation by using air pressure as opposed to slow and inefficient gravityfed chromatography. It differs from the conventional column technique by using slightly smaller silica gel particles and pressurized gas at 50–200 psi.

Flash chromatography is a purification technique that is designed for rapid separation by using air pressure as opposed to slow and inefficient gravity-fed chromatography. It differs from the conventional column technique by using slightly smaller silica gel particles and pressurized gas at 50–200 psi. Flash chromatography columns are typically prepacked plastic cartridges with silica gel particle sizes between 40–60 mm. Automated flash chromatography systems are composed of parts normally found on HPLC systems such as a gradient pump, injection ports, a UV detector, and a fraction collector to gather the eluent.

The earliest report of flash chromatography was by Clark Still over 40 years ago, but development was still in its infancy, as the newfound method was laborious and held the risk of the glass column shattering. However, by 1994, disposable plastic cartridges reduced preparation, improved reproducibility, and decreased separation time.

Flash chromatography is widely useful in the separation of closely related organic compounds. In the pharma industry, it can be used to purify various peptides, antibiotics, and related drug intermediates for drug discovery and development. It can also be used to fractionate natural products, such as tocopherols, alkaloids, xanthones, flavonoids, and cannabinoids.

The total market for flash chromatography was measured at around $150 million in 2019. In the past decade, the biopharma market has progressively expanded its use, accounting for more than three quarters of the demand. While solid growth is expected from flash columns and cartridges, demand from flash instrument systems are expected to be robust. Users continue to favor flash instruments coupled with advanced detectors such as evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD) and single quad mass spectrometers (SQMS). TDA estimates flash-ELSD systems captured the highest share of the market, but flash-SQMS systems will likely take over the top spot within the next few years.

Market size and growth estimates were adopted from TDA’s Industry Data, a database of technology market profiles and benchmarks covering laboratory and process analytical instrumentation that are updated quarterly. It also includes data from the 2020 Instrument Industry Outlook report from independent market research firm TDA. For more information, contact Glenn Cudiamat, general manager, at +1 (310) 871-3768 or glenn.cudiamat@tdaresearch.com.

 

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