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John Hinshaw presents his annual review of new developments in the field of gas chromatography introduced at Pittcon 2013.
John Hinshaw's review of gas chromatography (GC) instruments and accessories that were newly on display at the Pittsburgh Conference in March 2013, or were introduced to the marketplace in the preceding year.
For the first time since its inception 64 years ago, the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 17–22 March 2013. The newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, which reopened in March 2011, was a good fit for Pittcon's exhibition with 1925 booths subscribed by 1011 exhibitors from 28 countries. Of these, 167 exhibitors displayed at Pittcon for the first time. Attendees seemed to find it easier to locate companies' booths, and the exhibitors did not seem to mind their generally smaller square footage as compared to previous years' shows. A number of companies often seen in the past at Pittcon declined to exhibit again this year, although their presence was felt in technical papers and posters, as well as in a soft gas chromatography (GC) system introduction in which the instrument was displayed in several of the company's channel partners' booths.
The relocation to Philadelphia was a success with more than 18,000 registrants, over 40% of whom were first-time attendees. Registration was significantly higher than in the past two years. Of the attendees, 28% originated from outside the United States, which reflects the conference's continuing strong global presence. The conference organizers' emphasis on the technical programme was evident this year with more than 2000 technical sessions presented in 78 symposia, 12 awards, 93 oral sessions, 12 workshops and 62 posters. The short-course program was also very successful with more than 1400 participants in 100 courses.
In 2014 Pittcon will return to Chicago, Illinois, USA, and in 2015 the conference heads south to New Orleans, Louisiana. Other future locations include Atlanta, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida.
This annual "GC Connections" instalment reviews GC instrumentation and accessories shown at this year's Pittcon or introduced during the previous year. For a review of new GC and liquid chromatography (LC) columns and related accessories, please see part 1 of the latest instalment of "Column Watch" in this issue. Both parts are also available on-line at www.chromatographyonline.com/majors.
The information presented here is based on manufacturers' replies to questionnaires, as well as on additional information from manufacturers' press releases, web sites and product literature, and not upon actual use or experience of the author. During Pittcon, I took time to stroll around the convention aisles and see some of the new products firsthand as well as discover a number of items that weren't covered by the questionnaires. Every effort has been made to collect accurate information, but because of the preliminary nature of some of the material LCGC Asia Pacific cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. This article cannot be considered to be a complete record of all new GC products introduced this year at Pittcon or elsewhere because not all manufacturers chose to respond to the questionnaire, nor is all of the submitted information necessarily included here because of the limited space available and the editors' judgment as to its suitability.
The year leading up to Pittcon 2013 saw continued strong interest in GC as demonstrated by the arrival of another significant crop of new GC instruments. An on-going resurgence of mass-spectrometry (MS) capable instrument systems plus new entries in miniaturized and portable devices underlined the importance of rapid and specific analytical results across all the market segments. From another direction, continuing concern over dwindling helium supplies has sustained general interest in hydrogen carrier gas, along with much discussion of alternate carrier gases including purified air.
Table 1: Companies listed.
Agilent introduced the 7890B GC system, which features a number of incremental performance and ease-of-use improvements plus some new features related to mass-selective detection, inert sample path and carrier-gas calculations. The instrument was seen in a number of the company's channel partners' booths, effectively accomplishing a soft product introduction for the new system. The 7890B GC system was accompanied by the introduction of an upgraded 5977A GC–mass-selective detector system, with a new source design and a new turbomolecular pump with a higher compression ratio that is designed for light gases such as hydrogen and helium.
Table 2: GC instruments.
Shimadzu introduced its Tracera GC system with a new barrier discharge ionization detector that can deliver up to 100 times greater sensitivity than a conventional thermal conductivity detection (TCD) system. Shimadzu also exhibited the GCMS-TQ8030 triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer with high scan speeds and the wide variety of ionization modes that such an instrument can support. And along with some new and updated samplers (see above), CDS Analytical added a GC–TCD system to its product line, for fixed-gas analysis of pyrolysates from its trapping pyrolyzer systems.
Table 2: (continued) GC instruments.
Thermo Fisher Scientific introduced the TSQ 8000 Pesticide Analyzer system, which is a complete solution to facilitate multiresidue pesticide analysis. It is built around the company's TSQ 8000 triple-quadrupole GC–MS system, configured for pesticide analysis to help technician-level operators harness complex methods for GC–MS–MS analysis.
There were three new micro-GC products on display at Pittcon this year. From APIX, the GCAP portable micro-GC and Max-One compact hazardous-area GC systems are based on silicon micromachined valved inlets, capillary columns and high-frequency nano-metric resonant detectors. The systems can use purified air or conventional compressed carrier gases. Existing applications cover alkanes, permanent gases, volatile organic compounds and other materials. APIX shared the 2013 Pittcon Editors' Bronze Award.
Table 3: Sampling systems, detectors and accessories.
Inficon introduced the Micro GC Fusion system with temperature programmable capillary column operation, which enables the analysis of C12+ hydrocarbons along with improved sensitivity. The system uses microelectromechanical system (MEMS) inlets and detectors with modular columns for simultaneous parallel separations, and features a touchscreen user interface and WiFi communications.
Table 3: (continued) Sampling systems, detectors and accessories.
The GCX On-line Micro GC system from the Italian company Pollution is a rack-mountable modular multicolumn system for process and on-line applications. It features a MEMS-based high-sensitivity thermal conductivity detector, micro capillary columns, several injector modes and accessories such as multistream samplers and a thermal trapping or desorption module. The system supports a number of high-speed applications such as natural gas and odorants, permanent gases, hydrocarbons and solvents.
Table 3: (continued) Sampling systems, detectors and accessories.
Conference attendees were presented with a significant array of newly introduced or updated accessories for their GC systems, including some new detector developments and a number of items related to hydrogen carrier gas. Continued interest in managing volatile samples related to headspace, thermal desorption or purge-and-trap dominated the sampling category by far.
In the detector lineup, the AccuTOF GCV 4G time-of-flight mass spectrometer from JEOL USA, paired with the Zoex GC×GC interface and JEOL's unique electron ionization (EI)/field ionization (FI) ion source, combines comprehensive GC with high-resolution MS, and a choice of EI, chemical ionization (CI) and FI ion sources.
And from DET, the Catalytic Combustion ionization detector provides selective detection of compounds containing chains of methylene functional groups such as petroleum hydrocarbons, fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) and triglycerides without response from aromatic or cyclohydrocarbons.
The volatiles sampling category included the CDS-7400 Soil/Water purge-and-trap autosampler and model 7000E purge-and-trap system from CDS Analytical. The 72-position autosampler features three removable trays of 24 vials and automated water addition for soil samples, as well as internal standard addition. The 7000E purge-and-trap sampler is a smaller, more streamlined version of the company's model 7000 system and includes a newly updated computer interface in addition to the other features of its predecessor.
Torion introduced a pair of related air-sampling products, the Clarion portable air samplers for use with either conventional traps or with Torion's needle trap devices, and the Fuzion portable sample concentrator. The sample concentrator accommodates up to three different modules, including sample desorption, heated headspace, purge-and-trap and internal standard addition.
From Shimadzu, the HS-20 headspace sampler series consists of two models: a loop model for traditional static headspace methods, and a trap model that adds dynamic headspace sampling for applications requiring greater sensitivity. The HS-20 sample tray holds up to 90 10-mL and 20-mL sample vials, and the oven can be heated to 300 °C for analysis of higher-boiling compounds.
The TriPlus-300 headspace autosampler from Thermo Scientific is a valve-and-loop headspace autosampler with a 120-vial sample tray capacity and an 18-vial incubation oven overlap capacity with constant vial equilibrium intervals. The heated zones of the headspace unit can be set from 30–300 °C. When used with the company's Trace 1300 Series GC instruments, the TriPlus 300 headspace autosampler can be moved easily from one GC system to another without modifying the GC pneumatics, for confirmational purposes or to optimize workload.
The TT24-7 Series 2 thermal desorber from Markes International is designed for near-real-time unattended monitoring of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in air or gas. The desorber operates cryogen-free and unattended for extended periods and incorporates two electrically cooled traps operating in tandem.
Frontier Laboratories' new Tandem micro-Reactor system provides process engineers and scientists a flexible approach for rapidly screening and evaluating catalysts. It has dual heated reactor zones mounted in tandem that interface with the split–splitless inlet of a GC–MS system. The reactor contains the catalyst under evaluation; catalytically transformed products are swept directly onto a tube or the instrument can be mounted on a benchtop GC–MS system for on-line analysis of transformed products: gases, liquids or solids.
From Gerstel, the Automated Filtration option for the company's MPS Multipurpose Sampler enables efficient automated cleanup of up to 98 samples or extracts combined with other sample preparation steps or with introduction to an LC–MS–MS or GC–MS system. Along with the sampler and related accessories, the filtration option is controlled and sequenced by Gerstel's Maestro software.
A strong interest in hydrogen carrier gas continues this year, still spurred on by the ongoing helium shortage. The lower cost and potentially higher separation speeds of hydrogen carrier are a plus for chromatographers, and the removal of carrier-gas and flame-gas tanks from the laboratory make the deployment of hydrogen generators an attractive alternative. Parker Balston introduced a new higher capacity hydrogen generator this year, the model H2PEMPD-1300 generator with 1.3-L/m capacity, a palladium purification membrane, and proton-exchange gas generation. F-DGS International exhibited several series of laboratory hydrogen generators with 100–1200 mL/min capacities, including models for flame gas and carrier gas with options for trap regeneration, as well as models that combine air and hydrogen generation plus a hydrogen sensor for the GC oven or laboratory environment.
The SilFlow microfluidic gas stream switching device from SGE is available in three configurations: three-port, four-port and a five-port Deans switch. The devices consist of a chemically inert fluidic disk into which are etched microflow channels, with a cover plate that accommodates the company's SilTite finger-tight zero-dead-volume connectors. It can be used for capillary column and detector selection and for multidimensional GC configurations.
I would like to thank the manufacturers and distributors that kindly furnished the requested information before, during and after Pittcon 2013, which allowed a timely report on new product introductions. For those manufacturers who did not receive a preconference questionnaire this year and would like to receive one and be considered for early inclusion into Pittcon 2014 coverage, please send the name of the primary company contact, the mailing address, fax number and e-mail address to Laura Bush, Editorial Director, LCGC Asia Pacific and LCGC North America, Advanstar Communications, 485F US Highway 1 South, Suite 100, Iselin, NJ 08830, USA, Attn: 2014 New GC Products. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
John V. Hinshaw is a senior research scientist at BPL Global, Ltd., Hillsboro, Oregon, USA, and is a member of LCGC Asia Pacific's editorial advisory board. Direct correspondence about this column should be addressed to "GC Connections", LCGC Asia Pacific, 4A Bridgegate Pavilion, Chester Business Park, Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 9QH, UK, or email the editor-in-chief, Alasdair Matheson, at email@example.com