A GC like you have never seen before!
What do you expect from a GC? Surely an oven in which the separation column is located. You are in for a surprise: The Hyperchrom GC has no oven!
The separation column is heated in a thin steel capillary. This is extremely fast and consumes very little energy. The very special feature, however, is the added possibility of using a continuous temperature gradient. With the temperature gradient, the signals are focused and shaped. At the same time the elution temperatures are greatly reduced. The temperature gradient is generated by an ingeniously simple trick. The heated capillary lies in a flow field which is generated in such a way that the flow velocity increases continuously. Thus, the inlet of the separation column is hotter than the outlet. While the principle is simple, many technological challenges have had to be solved before this process worked as stably as conventional oven GCs.
Until now, fast GCs have always used expensive consumables. The separation columns are either installed in elaborate modules or specially wound onto holders. With the HyperChrom GC, the user can use any fused silica capillary from any manufacturer. Insertion and exchange are just as easy as with the oven GCs. However, since the separation columns are much shorter, the column cost goes down. One 30m separation column can be cut into 14 individual separation columns for a HyperChrom GC.
Stability of retention times is a key requirement of a GC. Of course, this is more difficult to achieve in the seconds range than in the minutes range of conventional GCs. HyperChrom's solution is again very unusual: water cooling. The carrier of the heated capillary is kept at a constant temperature via a coolant circulation. As a result, the environment of the capillary is not dependent on changing outside (laboratory) temperatures. But there is another big advantage associated with cooling. The gas chromatography can now start at 20°C. Without a special device and hardly any delay.
Technically, the cooling is realized with additive manufacturing of the column's support. Using selective laser sintering, internal cooling channels are printed into the wall along the flow channels.