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What Do Ion Chromatography Users Have to Say?

Find out some of the most exciting ion chromatography applications, as reported by users, and more

Jason Kerkhof

Ion chromatography (IC), a form of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), is a process by which the anions and cation in an ionic solution can be separated and analyzed. Almost any charged molecules, including proteins and nucleotides, can be analyzed using IC. It is a broadly applied technique that is especially useful for clinical, industrial, food, and environmental samples.

Top 6 Questions You Should Ask When Buying an Ion Chromatography System

  1. How flexible is the system? Can the system be optimized to meet your laboratory requirements?
  2. What tubes, vessels, and vials can it accommodate? Can components (such as additional detectors, valves, etc.) be upgraded in the future?
  3. Is the software easy to use and operate? Can a demo version be put in place to get a feel for how the software functions for your laboratory’s workflow?
  4. How is the system (not just components) qualified during installation to meet manufacturer performance expectations?
  5. Who provides the support and service for the product? Is it the manufacturer or a third-party service group? If it is a third-party service group, are they factory-trained?
  6. Finally, ask about the total cost of the purchase—not just the price of the product being installed—but the total cost of ownership, which includes price, service expectations, warranty, etc.

10 most common problems users experience when using their ion chromatography systems:

Air bubbles33%
High back pressure28%
Baseline drift28%
Poor injection precision15%
Variation in retention15%
Lack of analyte sensitivity13%
Fluctuating pressure reading13%

Factors that would help users overcome their ion chromatography challenges:

Improved maintenance38%
Better training31%
Better technical support26%
Newer equipment26%
Newer accessories17%
More staff14%

Some of the Most Exciting Applications for Ion Chromatography: As Reported by Users

Water Testing
Environmental analysis is one of the most important applications for IC. The technique can be used in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of anions and cations in drinking, surface, and saline waters, domestic and industrial waste, and leachates. Cyanide, hexavalent chromium, and bromate are examples of chemicals of interest in water testing with IC.

Carbohydrate Determination
Ion chromatography is increasingly being applied to carbohydrate determination in food science. Though they are not usually considered ionic, carbohydrates are acidic enough to be ionized in strongly basic solution, and are thus amenable to analysis by IC.

Pharmaceutical Analysis
Ion chromatography is a versatile tool for pharmaceutical analysis. The technique can be used to determine active ingredients, excipients, and traces of impurities, as well as metabolites in the form of organic and inorganic ions or polar substances, in certain drugs, drug solutions, and body fluids.


For more information on ion chromatography, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit