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Hydrogen is becoming the choice of carrier gas as the world moves away from Helium

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Hydrogen has become an increasingly popular alternative to helium as a carrier gas in gas chromatography. The reason for this is that helium, which has traditionally been the most widely used carrier gas in gas chromatography, has become increasingly expensive and in short supply. This has led to a search for alternative carrier gases that can provide similar performance but at a lower cost.

Hydrogen has several advantages over helium as a carrier gas in gas chromatography. One of the main advantages is that it has a higher diffusivity than helium, which can result in faster analysis times and improved separation efficiency. Additionally, hydrogen is less dense than helium, which can result in lower column back pressure and reduced run times. Furthermore, hydrogen is a highly efficient carrier gas, which means that it can reduce the amount of solvent required in the analysis, leading to lower costs and reduced waste.

However, there are also some challenges associated with using hydrogen as a carrier gas. One of the main challenges is that it is flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air if not handled properly. This requires the use of specialized equipment and safety protocols to ensure safe handling and operation. Additionally, hydrogen can react with certain materials, such as certain types of metals, which can cause damage to the chromatography system or affect the analysis results.

Another challenge associated with using hydrogen as a carrier gas is that it can be more difficult to detect certain types of analytes, particularly those that are non-polar or have low molecular weights. This is because hydrogen has a lower viscosity than helium, which can result in reduced interaction between the analyte and the stationary phase in the column. However, this can be overcome by using specialized columns or stationary phases that are optimized for use with hydrogen as a carrier gas.

In summary, replacing helium with hydrogen as a carrier gas in gas chromatography can provide several advantages, including improved separation efficiency, reduced run times, and lower costs. However, the use of hydrogen also presents some challenges, particularly in terms of safety and analyte detection. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the benefits and limitations of using hydrogen as a carrier gas and to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place before making the switch.

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