Trends and Developments in Gas Chromatography – LCGC Chromatography Online

A snapshot of key trends and developments in gas chromatography/gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC/GC–MS) according to selected panellists from the chromatography sector.

Q. What styles do you see emerging in GC or GC–MS?

Alessandro Baldi Talini: The major developments for gasoline chromatography (GC) and GC–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) in laboratories right now can be found in the features associated with the Industry 4. 0 era, which includes digitalization and smart and automated technologies fuelled by data and machine learning. In pre‑pandemic times, interest in the particular benefits of smart and automated technologies was high. With the necessity to protect people and also keep science plus business going during the pandemic, however , the new normal of social distancing, working from home (WFH), hybrid working shifts, and labour shortages have greatly accelerated the adoption and implementation of digitalization. For laboratories it has become very important in order to integrate new ways of operational efficiency. Remoteness and connectivity of GC workflows will be lasting trends.

Sustainability, from an environmental and operational perspective, is another topic that is seeing a lot of interest. For example, given supply chain dependencies, disruptions, plus rising costs coming from world events, the particular use associated with helium is shifting to less costly and greener alternatives. The use of hydrogen generators will be a perfect example of how technology may address sustainability and market shifts. There is no handling of gas tanks, no shipments, you never run out associated with gas, plus water generates a carrier that facilitates fast and safe chromatography.

James Gearing: One emerging trend is the focus on durability and the strive for more efficient laboratory operations. Instrument design plus manufacturing is usually taking sustainability into consideration,
from product inception to decommissioning and disposal. Everything from materials chosen, manufacturing processes, and shipment are evaluated. Many instruments now have environmental impact scores to help enterprises make informed decisions when it comes to durability.

Another trend may be the strong desire for alternative carrier gases, particularly switching from helium to hydrogen due to increased helium expenses and shortages. System features also contribute to the particular sustainability goals of the laboratory, for example, fuel saver plus direct column heating ovens reduce gas and power usage. In the area of sample introduction and sample preparation, the trend is towards a lot more automation, with popular techniques such as headspace, purge and trap, plus thermal desorption. Pyrolysis extends the range of GC, opening up brand new application areas. Full test characterization along with fast GC is driving more class‑based analysis. New regulations with regard to environmental applications, dioxins, and genotoxic impurities are traveling new waves of ownership of GC–MS.

Hansjoerg Majer: While relaxing at home, I like to watch the old forensic TV series like Medical Detectives . I am amazed at how the new and innovative technology “gas chromatography” is definitely often celebrated as solving the case. Forty years later, some consider the technology mature, pointing to the recently added light inside the GC oven as the latest innovation.

Scientists and technicians use gasoline chromatography daily to solve their challenges. For the manufacturers of chromatography systems, the particular column remains the centrepiece.

Technical expertise in chromatography may be decreasing; nevertheless , the complexity associated with the test and sample load is increasing. Gas chromatography has become the workhorse, and the particular focus can be on the robustness of the process. Equipment plus consumables are usually expected to operate 24/7. Instruments are discovered in high‑throughput routine laboratories, production facilities, glove boxes, ocean‑going research vessels, and in space. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission put columns on the Philae lander to trial the comet surface.

Presently there is a clear trend towards faster processes plus miniaturization. The combination of fuel chromatography with newer, smaller detectors, such as ion mobility spectroscopy (IMS), makes “handheld” systems seem possible for complex programs such because food safety or environment protection.

Old and brand new approaches to chromatography have taken advantage of the particular rapid increase in instrument sensitivity and acquisition speed. For example , low‑pressure GC (LPGC) decreases runtimes by decreasing the elution temperature of compounds in the vacuum—a technology that has existed for many years but has been reinvented now.

On the other hand, new technology such since flow-field thermal gradient GC (FF-TG-GC) allows precise control of the particular temperature and thermal gradient, producing narrower peak widths and quicker runtimes.

Big data handling capacities will give more complex systems such as two‑dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) another chance to enter the routine analysis area.

Massimo Santoro: While GC is still widely used regarding very common apps, it’s interesting to see its use gaining ground in order to complement the information needed intended for challenging applications that can’t be addressed exclusively along with other methods. I’m referring to the improved interest within volatile per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), where GC–MS with example introduction simply by thermal desorption is used alongside liquid chromatography (LC)/LC–MS to get its capacity to investigate volatile species that would simply be missed otherwise, or even when GC–MS is utilized together with spectroscopic strategies for quantitative determination of microplastics in water, air, and components.

Queen. What is certainly the future of GC or GC–MS?

Alessandro Baldi Talini: The future for GC and GC–MS lies within implementing the Industry four. 0 blueprint by looking at: exactly how labs can become digitally-enabled by being connected plus allowing remote work; just how automation may be integrated into repetitive tasks, enabling lab staff to be more focused on information analysis and insightful action; and how GC, GC–MS, plus chromatography data systems (CDS) can mitigate training and adoption costs for new technologies by considering new “digital skills” associated with lab staff, driven by the spread of digital devices.

James Gearing: The recent introductions of smart plus connected intelligent instruments offers set the path for the particular future. Containing powerful microprocessors, GC and GC–MS techniques will continue to be enhanced with even more advanced algorithms plus capabilities to eliminate routine operator jobs, simplifying diagnostics and troubleshooting, and along with software systems automating information review with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Analysis is being driven closer in order to the sampling location along with mobile, remote control, at-, or near-line programs, especially with micro-GC. For example, reaction gas monitoring is growing as option fuel research is increasingly funded. Devices are becoming more self-aware and can perform analysis in the background and alert users associated with exceptions requiring attention.

Hansjoerg Majer: Rapid on-site screening of chemicals continues to advance with the miniaturization associated with mass spectrometers and some other detectors. With regard to example, ion trap mass spectrometry (IT-MS) systems measure only around 1 mm in diameter. There are portable GC–MS systems along with a low thermal bulk (LTM) line that weigh only about 15  kg and produce similar data to a benchtop system. Chemical sensor technologies incorporates multiple detectors on a chip and customized polymers coated onto a sensor platform targeting substances with different polarities/solubilities that can become analyzed through the atmosphere in real-time.

Massimo Santoro: They have a bright future. Most of the common emerging contaminants are very volatile varieties, for which GC plus GC–MS are usually the ideal choices. Additionally , technological advances in sample techniques, small sample introduction, and MS detection have meant that entire workflows can be miniaturized, reducing sample plus solvent waste, moving away from the use of non-renewable helium as carrier gas, and making GC and GC–MS more environmentally friendly.

Q. What will be the GC or GC–MS application area that you see developing the fastest?

Alessandro Baldi Talini: Right now there is a good expansion of GC plus GC–MS apps in increasing industries, within particular, batteries and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It will be interesting to see the adoption associated with well‑established methods, slightly modified, to accommodate the need of these new types associated with samples.

James Gearing: There is a shift in concentrate towards renewable fuels and a growing need to expand hydrocarbon composition testing capabilities in order to better understand these molecules. GC×GC is receiving growing attention as the potential all‑in‑one fuel composition analyzer with the proliferation of low footprint non‑cryogenic flow modulation technology. Whilst conventional fuel product quality focuses primarily on physical property plus performance‑based screening, renewable molecules are becoming qualified as fuel blend components initially by structure. Synthetic paraffinic kerosenes (SPKs) are an example of alternative fuels that will currently require “per-batch” evaluation of molecular classes simply by pre-fractionation and GC–MS. GC×GC provides the same analytical fidelity without cumbersome sample preparation, plus the initial GC×GC consensus test methods are targeting SPK fuels. This lays the foundation for GC×GC to potentially consolidate existing conventional energy sources composition tests, currently distribute between higher performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC), GC, and GC–MS, into a single platform.

Hansjoerg Majer: In North America, cannabis assessment has expanded from pesticides to terpene characterization.

Food fraud recognition and food quality manage via fingerprinting and information handling is an emerging topic.

Nitrosamines took centre stage globally as an impurity in medications, but they are also found in the environment, food, beverages, cosmetics, plus cigarette smoke; these compounds are strong carcinogens and have garnered worldwide interest.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are known by many additional acronyms (persistent mobile natural compounds [PMOC]; persistent, mobile, toxic [PMT]), will certainly continue to garner attention and funding pertaining to research plus future regulation. These compounds include legacy compounds because well since emerging substances of interest.

Within addition, there is a clear pattern to combine methods into so-called multi‑multi‑methods . These are screening methods in which different component classes are usually combined. Such methods place high demands around the tuning of separation column selectivity.

Nontarget screening is another methodological approach that will is dependent on the newest big data handling capacities, and will turn out to be more popular in various areas of attention for example environmental or meals analysis.

Massimo Santoro: I would say every application which has an impact upon human health is heading to grow fast in the coming many years. From environment applications looking for emerging contaminants to foods quality/food adulteration, all the particular way to monitoring the air we breathe in and out—GC–MS is the technique of choice for early diagnostics of diseases. Most of these types of applications didn’t exist 10–15 years ago, or were not as challenging meant for GC–MS within terms associated with sensitivity and throughput requirements. Now every result provides to end up being provided in a timely manner, and that offers an additional chance designed for GC–MS strength to shine.

Queen. What obstacles stand in the way of GC or even GC–MS development?

Alessandro Baldi Talini: Rather than focus on obstacles, I would refer more in order to opportunities when we develop brand new GC platforms. Laboratories are looking more than ever just for ease of use plus predefined workflows to minimize time to information and to be able to easily adopt new applications. The challenge is in order to be able to provide a good user experience similar to what we all expect every day when interacting with our mobile devices, computers, and cars. The particular commoditization associated with GC technology calls for intuitiveness, interactive/updated graphics, fast data access, and easy collaboration, making the particular experience and the data the focus vs. the actual instrument plus technology working behind the scenes.

James Gearing: GC/GC–MS techniques serve a broad range of markets and application places, often along with long time frames of historical data plus workflows. It requires compelling business justification to modify existing strategies or workflows. For instance , the particular recurring disadvantages of helium and increased costs are driving a change towards hydrogen-based methods. GC and GC–MS users are also facing ever‑increasing measurement needs because of new regulations or stricter high quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) product requirements. Broader use of tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) or even GC×GC, along with more advanced software processing, could assist simplify the overall workflow and deliver actionable results.

Hansjoerg Majer: Gas chromatography is dependent on the carrier gas. Over many years helium has proven to be particularly suitable, both because of its inertness in the chromatographic system and because of its properties within the ionization sources of mass spectrometric detectors.

From time to time, we are reminded that helium is not always available in unlimited quantities. As a result, some analytical methods have to be switched to other carrier gases, such as nitrogen or hydrogen, especially when information has to be delivered without interruption.

Nowadays, such conversions can be accompanied by computer programs, but they are not really without risks.

The so-called “big markets” in analytics, namely, the particular pharmaceutical sector with its trend towards large biological molecules, makes instrument providers more likely in order to invest in the LC field, so innovations in the GC sector may not progress as fast as they could.

Massimo Santoro: None, really. I think there will always be a need for GC–MS to be adopted more widely, and that’s an excellent opportunity for developing smaller, smarter, more integrated GC–MS solutions.

Q. What was the particular biggest accomplishment or news in 2021/2022 for GC or GC–MS?

Alessandro Baldi Talini: The most relevant information of 2021 has been the
return of strong market demand. Although the pandemic is still hitting some market areas, we have seen the market going back to 2019 levels pretty much in every segment. With that, we have observed a profound change in demand, with a large focus on remote capabilities and for technologies that foster collaboration across teams.

James Gearing: A new GC–MS ion source allows the wider use associated with hydrogen because a carrier gas in GC–MS applications. As I mentioned before, all of us see a continued acceleration of users adopting hydrogen since a provider gas. Due to hydrogen not possessing the same inert qualities as helium, this can pose the challenge, especially in the high energy environment associated with a GC–MS ion source. The new ion resource greatly reduces the potential reaction between susceptible analytes and the hydrogen carrier gasoline.

A big accomplishment has been the continued development of smart-connected technology. New intelligent instrument features based on chromatographic data enable a lot more advanced diagnostics, trending, plus troubleshooting. Remote interfaces allow laboratory users more flexibility, resulting within less unplanned downtime and more efficient operations.

Hansjoerg Majer: The expansion of both FF-TG-GC plus LPGC substantially increases sample throughput and can take advantage of the particular recent advances in bulk spectrometer technologies, that is, benchtop (BT)-TOF, orbital traps).

Massimo Santoro: Thermal desorber systems independently certified for the use of hydrogen carrier fuel while nevertheless maintaining compatibility with conventional carrier gas such as helium and nitrogen are an important technological advancement. These may increase productivity by as much as
40–50% compared to the use of helium.