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This article discusses some of the technical considerations and practical aspects of UFGC as a method and considers several key applications of its use.
Gas chromatography (GC) is one of several core techniques for chemical analysis and is commonly used in analytical laboratories worldwide. Focusing primarily on separating volatile organic compounds, the applications of GC continue to grow in line with developments in the numerous manufacturing and industrial processes in which it is used.
The principle of GC was first conceived in 1941 by A.J.P Martin who, along with others, suggested the possibility that the liquid phase in liquid/liquid partition chromatography could be replaced by a gas or vapour. In his paper Martin suggests that the increased rates of diffusion of an analyte in gas, when compared with a liquid, would reduce the time taken to reach the equilibrium required for retention and elution. Subsequent to this, Martin et al., produced the first gas chromatogram, which was published in 1951 and described the analysis of a series of fatty acids.
In the 60 years since this pioneering work, there have been significant improvements and developments of the technique, not limited to the GC analysis itself but reaching into the fields of sample handling, column type, stationary phase and method of detection. Modern industrial pressures place a spotlight on increasing sample throughput, reducing costs and consistently and comprehensively satisfying regulatory mandates.
Traditional GC methods are both robust and reproducible. They offer a sensitive analytical approach to the accurate identification and quantification of organic compounds from within complex samples. Established GC methods have separation times that can cause significant delay, with full elution of analytes from a sample often taking 40–60 min. To increase the throughput of samples and the speed of analysis, Fast GC (FGC) and Ultra-Fast GC (UFGC) techniques have been developed.
This article will discuss some of the technical considerations and practical aspects of UFGC as a method and will consider several key applications of its use within various industrial settings.