5 Applications of Gas Chromatography
Apr 02 2022
Gas chromatography is separation technique that’s been around for over a century. In that time, it’s made its way into a number of industries with plenty of uses. It can be combined with a range of detection techniques like mass spectrometry and Fourier-transform infrared to enhance analysis, making it suitable for even more applications.
In this post, we’ll look at five of them in more detail.
If you think the food you eat is simple and straightforward, think again. Nowadays, food undergoes a long list of tests to make sure it’s safe to eat, keep it compliant with the relevant regulations, provide clarity on ingredients, and even enhance its quality.
Gas chromatography can play a vital role in each and every one of these cases. It can be used for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of food products, quantification of additives, identification of flavour and aroma compounds, and the detection of contaminants like pesticides and natural toxins.
The use of gas chromatography to identify flavour and aroma compounds is discussed in more detail in the article, ‘Unique Separation of Mint Essential Oils by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Using Two Different Capillary Phases: Bonded Polyethylene Glycol and a Novel Ionic Liquid Phase’.
Manufacturing is another area where gas chromatography is useful. Pharmaceutical companies, in particular, need to know that their products contain the exact amount of medicine required without any inconsistencies or impurities.
Gas chromatography can do exactly that, identifying and quantifying each component that makes up a particular product. It’s also used in the chemical industry to do the same for solvents and emulsifiers. In both cases, it makes sure production can be scaled up without the risk of unsafe or deficient products.
- Pollution monitoring
Pollution is one of the most talked-about topics over the past decade, and there’s no signs of that changing. One of the most immediate issues is the emission of pollutants into the air we breathe. Most commonly attributed to cars and industrial facilities, these emissions have been linked to breathing difficulties, fatal illnesses like cancer, and even birth defects.
Gas chromatography can be used to monitor pollution levels in the air. In turn, that gives researchers a better insight into where pollution is worse, how it changes throughout the day and year, and how it can be combatted in the long run.
- And prevention
Another pollution-related application of gas chromatography is preventing it. Volatile organic compounds are released by a number of products, from carpets and furniture to paint and cleaning solutions.
Gas chromatography can be used to identify and quantify specific chemicals that are released into the air by these products. That gives manufacturers a better chance of removing them altogether, or at the very least advising consumers on practices like ventilation to reduce their impact.
- Drug testing
Because gas chromatography can identify specific components within a substance, it can also be used to detect drugs from samples of bodily fluids. This is sometimes used for forensic purposes, testing whether someone has consumed drugs or ingested poison in the hours leading up to their death. However, it can also be used in legal cases and by sporting bodies to test for illegal or prohibited drug usage.
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