Top tips on how to save time in chromatography

One of the most precious resources of scientists is time. Chromatographers are no exception. You yourself might be interested in achieving high quality separations in minimal time. In this post, take advantage of a few lab hacks on how you can save this valuable resource in your chromatography experiments.

I was relaxing on the sofa the other day when I suddenly remembered a commercial running on TV when I was younger. It was a lottery advertisement that showed a man lying on a lounge chair on a lake deck. The idea of the commercial was that the most important thing you could buy was time. I remember thinking to myself that I’d rather spend my lottery win on a mountain bike than on buying time.

As an older and wiser man, I must admit that I now understand the message of the commercial. Time is a precious resource and one that is nearly always lacking in people’s personal and professional lives. To counter this in my lab work, I try to use as many clever time-saving tips as possible, so I could get to my results faster without compromising the quality of experiments or tasks.

Believe it or not, I even try to save time by speeding up one of my favorite methods, chromatography.

There are indeed ways one can quicken chromatography experiments while still achieving superb data quality.

For example, have you ever thought about the amount of time it costs to switch between systems for crude separations using flash chromatography and systems for high-resolution separations using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)? Consider how much time you would save with a purification system with both flash and HPLC capabilities. With such a system, you could easily switch between flash and HPLC chromatography in the matter of seconds, rather than wasting precious time setting up multiple platforms.

Screenshot of user-friendly software which helps save time by enabling easy switch between flash chromatography and preparative chromatography modes
Switch between flash and preparative modes with the touch of a button, without the need for additional hardware connections

In a previous post, I discussed the advantages of having both a UV and evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD). ELSD helps you save time by enabling selective fraction collection, which leads to a lower number of total fractions and reduced post-run processing times.

Another tip for speeding up your chromatography run without sacrificing resolution or purity is to use spherical particles for your purification. Compared to irregular silica, spherical particles have better flow properties and pore distribution in the column. This in turn allow for higher sample loads and higher flow rates, substantially decreasing purification times.

These are just a few teasers here for you, but it is worth the time to take a look at an additional

If you find these tips useful, make sure you keep checking the blog regularly. I will soon include more posts with suggestions on how to speed up your experiments and win precious time.

Till next time,

The Signature of Bart Denoulet at Bart's Blog