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A review of gas chromatography instruments and accessories presented at Pittcon 2012
In this installment we review gas chromatography (GC) instruments and accessories that were newly presented at Pittcon 2012 or were introduced to the marketplace in the preceding year.
The 2012 Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) was held March 11–15 in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center. The 63rd annual occurrence of this venerable analytical chemists' symposium was only slightly less attended than the conference's 2010 southern sojourn at the same location, with 15,754 registrants. I'm comparing the attendance to that at the previous Orlando venue rather than Atlanta from 2011 because the attendance always has been somewhat lower when the conference heads south. The amount of exhibitor booth space also declined by a similar margin, driven by many companies' decisions to attend with a smaller footprint, although the total number of exhibiting companies only dropped by about 2%.
Significantly absent this year were Agilent and PerkinElmer, which are both engaging in postconference seminar tours and on-line product displays. Both companies exhibited at Analytica in Munich, Germany, April 17–20, 2012. Several companies opted to meet key customers at nearby hotel suites rather than hosting an in-exhibition booth. To an aisle wanderer such as myself, the overall impression was one of reduced acreage accompanied by a larger Technology Park area and, although I did not measure them, perhaps slightly wider corridors. Smaller though it may have been, the exhibit floor experience was almost relaxed, with more time to visit each exhibitor of interest, unlike some earlier years where I often had to choose between visiting a booth or attending a session.
The conference organizers' emphasis on the technical program was evident in the consistent number of poster sessions that were mounted in two large areas of the exhibition floor, as well as in the continuing high count of oral presentations, symposia, and workshops. Short-course attendance was up 16% from last year.
Among the conferees, 36% listed liquid chromatography (LC) and 34% gas chromatography (GC) among their selected scientific specialties; these were the top two categories at the conference. Spectroscopic specialties accounted for the majority of the remaining mentions; ion chromatography was cited by 11%, and other chromatography techniques were cited by 7%.
Pittcon 2013 will be held in Philadelphia for the first time, March 17–21, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The conference is scheduled to return to Chicago (2014, 2017), New Orleans (2015), and Atlanta (2016), before returning to Orlando in 2018.
This installment is our annual review of GC instrumentation and accessories shown at this year's Pittcon or introduced during the previous year. For a review of new GC and LC chromatography columns and related accessories, please see Ron Majors's "Column Watch" in the April and May 2012 issues of LCGC North America, which are also available on-line at www.chromatographyonline.com/ColumnWatch.
Table I: Companies listed
The information presented here is based on manufacturers' replies to questionnaires, as well as on additional information from manufacturers' press releases, websites, and product literature, and not upon my actual use or experience. 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 North America cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. This column cannot be considered 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 available space and the editors' judgment as to its suitability.
New GC Instruments
Another new crop of GC instruments appeared in 2012, which demonstrates once again the ongoing resilience of the technique and also emphasizes a continuing shift toward mass-selective detection since what used to be top-end capabilities have become more affordable. Nearly half of the newly introduced instruments are tightly associated with a mass spectrometric (MS) detector. Most were more about the MS detector than the GC system itself. See Table II for the details of each new product.
Table II: GC instruments
Shimazdu's GCMS-QP2010 SE system is an upgraded version of the company's QP2010 S system that features high-performance ion optics and a quadrupole mass filter along with lab-friendly energy- and time-saving features. While not seen at Pittcon, PerkinElmer earlier this year introduced the Clarus SQ 8 GC/Mass Spectrometer system with high sensitivity, tool-free source maintenance, and a rapid scanning speed. Bruker Daltonics highlighted its high-end Scion TQ GC–MS-MS system with 180° optics that enables multiple ion-selective scan modes for resolution of complex samples and matrices. This triple-quadrupole GC–MS system, introduced in July 2011, won the 2012 Pittcon Editors' Silver Award. All of these new GC–MS systems operate in tandem with the companies' respective existing gas chromatograph offerings.
Table II: GC instruments (continued)
From Torion, the Tridion-9 GC-TMS system is a gas chromatograph–toroidal mass spectrometer system that is aimed at the rapid screening of chemicals such as environmental volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), explosives, chemical threats, and hazardous chemicals. The unit is billed as a "Person-Portable" GC–MS system that can easily be carried to remote sites. It uses a conventional 100-µm i.d. capillary column bundled with a low-thermal-mass resistive heater and helium carrier gas. Sample injection is accomplished via the company's Custodion solid-phase microextraction (SPME) syringe.
Thermo Fisher Scientific came to Pittcon with the 1300-Series GC system, a completely new frame. With a unique system of "instant-connect" modular interchangeable inlet and detector options, the 1300-Series system allows end users to quickly exchange or replace either or both inlets or detectors as pluggable modules. Each module includes pneumatic and electronic connections that are engaged by putting them in place and tightening a couple of screws.
PAC introduced the AC Analytical Controls CNS SIMDIS for Crude Oil analyzer. The system simultaneously determines the boiling range distribution of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in crude oils and final products, using simulated distillation and a combination of flame ionization detection (FID) and chemiluminescence detection.
A unique portable GC instrument was on display at the 2012 Pittcon. The Frog-4000 system from Defiant Technologies is a miniaturized GC system with photoionization detection (PID). Based on micromachined preconcentrator and GC designs, the Frog-4000 system targets field analysis of VOCs in water and soil.
Sampling and Accessories
This year saw strong growth in new automated headspace GC (HSGC) samplers. Together with Agilent's 7697A headspace sampler that was introduced at Pittcon 2011, this burgeoning of HSGC is indicative of the ongoing demand for volatiles analysis in solid, semisolid, and liquid matrices such as for pharmaceutical and food or flavor products. Table III lists the salient details.
Table III: Sampling systems and accessories
The new offerings bring a wide range of sizes and capabilities. The SHS-40 headspace sampler from Bruker Daltonics is a multivial equilibrium headspace autosampler for the company's 400-series GC systems as well as the Scion Series GC–MS system. It accommodates up to 40 vials and supports a range of modes and capabilities. The Master SHS static headspace sampling system from Dani is designed to work with the company's Master GC system, but it also interfaces with most other GC systems. The Master SHS system has a 120-vial capacity and a range of options such as a bar-code reader. The Versa automated headspace vial sampler from Teledyne Tekmar is a compact device that holds up to 20 vials and works with most GC systems as well.
Table III : Sampling systems and accessories (continued)
A related application-specific headspace sampler, EST Analytical's Centurion RSK50, performs US EPA RSK 175 analysis for dissolved methane, ethane, and ethylene in water, including sample preparation of the requisite 40-mL volatile organics analysis (VOA) vial and sampling of the evolved headspace gases onto nearly any model of GC system.
Table III : Sampling systems and accessories (continued)
Two new canister sampling devices were on-hand. Markes International introduced its CIA Advantage canister sampling system in 2011, after previewing it at last year's Pittcon. The cryogen-free sampler handles multiple canisters and is fully compliant with US EPA TO-15. From Entech, the 7200 Automated Preconcentrater uses a three-stage trapping procedure to preconcentrate gaseous samples from a variety of sources, add internal standards or spikes, and like the Markes unit it works with most GC systems.
Two new liquid GC autosampler systems were shown this year. HTA s.r.l. displayed its model HT3100A autoinjector, HT3000A autosampler, and HT3200A top-class autosampler. Together, the three models deliver a wide range of capabilities to almost any GC system. From Thermo Fisher Scientific, the TriPlus RSH autosampler is a robotic x-y-z axis sample handling system and autoinjector with all of the flexibility and versatility that comes along with this type of device. One TriPlus RSH autosampler can address up to two GC systems with sample preparation, derivatization, and microvolume injection among many sampling options.
Finally, Gerstel introduced two accessories for its robotic MultiPurpose Sampler (MPS). The mVAP Multi-Position Evaporation Station concentrates up to six samples at user-defined temperatures and vacuum levels. Solvent exchange, solid-phase extraction, and filtration are a few of the possible sample preparation techniques. Gerstel's mVORX vortex and shaker accessory for its MPS system agitates as many as eight sample vials in the horizontal plane to eliminate vial-cap contamination and over-mixing of microsized samples.
I would like to thank the manufacturers and distributors that kindly furnished the requested information before, during, and after Pittcon 2012, allowing 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 2013 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 and Spectroscopy, Advanstar Communications, 485F US 1 South, Iselin, New Jersey 08830, Attn: 2013 New GC Products.
(1) R. Majors, LCGC No. America 4(30), 290–310 (2012).
(2) R. Majors, LCGC No. America 5(30), 376–390 (2012).
John V. Hinshaw
"GC Connections" editor John V. Hinshaw is a Senior Scientist at BPL Global, Ltd., in Hillsboro, Oregon, and a member of LCGC's editorial advisory board. Direct correspondence about this column to the author via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org