Flash Chromatography – The Role of Silica Gel
Flash chromatography works very well with silica gel. To understand why this is so it is important to consider the history of flash chromatography, how it has evolved, and implications this may have for the future.
With traditional chromatography methods, the sample mixture is placed at the top of the column. Gravity pulls the mobile phase and sample mixture through the column. Overall, liquid flows through through the column very slowly. The entirety of the process is quite lengthy– hours to days – depending on how finely divided the stationary phase is, how long and how big around the columns is, and so on. In the end, the final purified components will be obtained, solvents eliminated, and structural analysis can begin – but it takes a long time.
This process not only took time but also could involve the use of expensive resources, such as requiring a technician to be available to oversee the process. The use of flash chromatography will mitigate these two problems.
With flash chromatography, liquid (mobile phase and sample) is forced through the column at a higher rate by manipulating air pressure. The result is that the overall process requires significantly less time to execute. The pressure at the head of the column – which controls the rate of liquid movement through the column – can be adjusted. By leveraging flash chromatography, the separation process itself (not including sample prep or workup) now requires less than one hour. This saves time, resources, and cash.
In application, flash chromatography has become an important procedure in the healthcare and pharmaceutical fields which rely on the extensive chemical characterization of therapeutic agents. Many types of stationary phases are now available. However, in common practice, silica gel is used as the preferred stationary phase in flash chromatography. This is primarily due to the relatively low cost of high quality silica gel. To be sure, despite the high cost, variable quality, or lack of availability, some laboratories choose to use other adsorbents such as florisil, alumina, or reversed phase silica, due to their specific separation requirements. This is usually due to unique properties of the molecules of interest that render silica gel inadequate for their specific separation.
For your flash chromatography needs, the product specialists at Sorbent Technologies have a suite of chromatography supplies to choose from. We are committed to offering premium products and services for all phases of chromatography including separation, purification and extraction on laboratory, pilot and production scales in the chemical, life science, and academic arenas. Sorbent Technologies provides a large inventory of adsorbents for flash chromatography.