Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography in industry: present situation and potential developments
For analytical scientists, the ultimate goal is to develop and implement original methods to solve practical issues. At first, this quest of perfection has to take into account the pure analytical robustness and trueness of the approach. Nevertheless, costs and practical aspects may not be forgotten and should seriously be considered. This complex balance is even more complex for industrial analytical solutions as it also should include an ‘ease of implementation’ factor. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) has a recognized added value in some industrial fields where complex sample characterization is required (e.g. oil and gas, fragrance, food, …). The high separation power of the two chromatographic dimensions provides the required resolution to fingerprint most of complex samples. This analytical power made GC×GC the method of choice for untargeted screening in different industrial applications. However, the cost and complexity of GC×GC are the most limiting factors for its widespread acceptance. The development of fully integrated GC×GC solutions, including data processing, would support its development and implementation in other fields.
Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC) has been present in the separation science landscape for almost 30 years (1). From lab-made first proof of concept instruments to fully integrated commercial solutions, the technique has been through the classical development curve of complex hyphenated analytical techniques. In order to successfully reach industry acceptance, robust instruments and data processing softwares were required. The first challenge was the development of robust and reliable hardware equipment allowing the distribution of commercial equipment. The two main areas of development were the creation of robust modulators and the coupling to fast acquisition mass spectrometry (MS) detectors (2).
Today, method development and data handling are the ongoing challenges met by most users, on both industrial and academic sides. The development and exploitation of GC×GC workflows still require expert users. Such expertise requirement can easily dampen industry’s interest for the technique. Time is money and the learning and de ...