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Illustration of a gas chromatograph
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Purchasing Guide: Gas Chromatography

Gas chromatography (GC) is an analytical chemistry technique used to separate, detect, and quantitate the chemical components of a sample mixture

by Lab Manager
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Phenomenex’s Zebron Gas Chromatography Columns
Phenomenex’s Zebron Gas Chromatography Columns, www.phenomenex.com/products/zebron-gc-columns
Credit: Phenomenex

Gas chromatography (GC) is an analytical chemistry technique used to separate, detect, and quantitate the chemical components of a sample mixture. The simplicity and sensitivity of this method lends to its wide use across many industries and for applications such as drug testing, analyzing essential oils, and breaking down food samples. Gas chromatography can be combined with mass spectrometry (MS) to enable GC-MS which can further assist in the identification of a sample’s chemical components. For a list of gas chromatography system manufacturers, see our online directory: LabManager.com/GC-manufacturers

6 Questions to Ask When Buying a Gas Chromatograph:

  1. What columns will you need for your sample type?
  2. What detector (FID, MS, TCD, etc.) is best suited for your application? Will you be pairing gas chromatography with mass spectrometry?
  3. What is your throughput? Would an autosampler improve your efficiency?
  4. How easy is the system to use and what analytical software is available?
  5. Would a used gas chromatography system be a better fit for your budget?
  6. What eluent gas do you need? Have you considered using hydrogen?

Hydrogen vs Helium

Traditionally, helium has been the carrier gas of choice in gas chromatography (GC) processes thanks to its inert, non-combustible properties. However, the global helium shortage has researchers turning to alternative carrier gases. Hydrogen, which facilitates high-speed analysis and can produce sharper peaks than helium, is an excellent alternative for many labs. If your lab benefits from saved time and increased sensitivity, consider switching to hydrogen for GC applications.

Maximize GC Column Lifespan

GC columns are expensive pieces of equipment. To maximize their lifespan, it’s possible to recondition them by performing solvent washes at regular intervals or baking at high temperatures. These methods can add anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to a column’s lifespan, giving you enough time to purchase a new GC column to replace it without stopping lab operations completely.