What Is Flash Chromatography? Discover What’s New in an Old Field

Guest Author: David C. Kennedy, Ph.D

What is flash chromatography, and what new things can we expect in such an old field?

Flash chromatography often appears to be a quiet corner in the burgeoning field of separation science. Compared to rapidly growing areas like UHPLC, nothing too exciting happens too often. However, something very new and innovative has come to the field of flash chromatography. So, what is this new “thing”?

Be patient, I’m going to tell you, but before I continue with this exciting news, let me make sure that you understand what flash chromatography is. (Oh, all right, if you already know the story, you can skip ahead to the good stuff in paragraph 7.)

Flash chromatography is also known as low pressure or medium pressure liquid chromatography. It operates at pressures of 50 -200 psi, as compared to HPLC, which operates at 1000s of psi, and UHPLC which operates above 10,000 psi.

The important distinction to keep in mind is that flash chromatography is a purification tool, not an analytical tool like HPLC. Flash has been around for decades and its primary use has been in pharmaceutical drug discovery R&D. When an organic chemist or medicinal chemist synthesizes a new drug candidate molecule, the compound of interest must be “cleaned up” or purified before it can be further studied and evaluated. The crude reaction mixture is passed through a flash chromatography column and the pure drug compound is isolated by selective elution. If you have ever taken a prescription medication, the chances are very high that flash chromatography was used at some point in the research and development of that drug.

So, even though flash is an “old”chromatography, it is still the primary purification technique used in the pharmaceutical R&D enterprise because it is fast (Flash!), it is easy to use and it is versatile. The same physical properties that govern HPLC also apply to flash chromatography with the ability to use either normal phase or reverse phase, to use bonded phases to modify elution profiles, etc. Because of these desirable characteristics, flash chromatography is also finding use in the purification of natural products like vegetable dyes and dietary supplement ingredients. Flash is also being used to isolate and purify cannabinoids for use in edible products.

Now, you may be saying: “OK, so flash is an old, reliable chromatography purification tool with the potential for diverse applications. But, what’s this new thing you keep talking about?”

What’s new is that Phenomenex is now able to offer flash chromatography products to our customers! As you know, Phenomenex is a global leader and innovator in HPLC, UHPLC, GC and SPE. However, Phenomenex has never participated in the field of flash chromatography—until now. Phenomenex has joined forces with its sister company Agela Technologies, headquartered in Tianjin, China and the Asian leader in flash chromatography. Agela offers a full line of flash chromatography instruments, columns, and accessories and has long been committed to providing the customer with superior value, the best performing product at the lowest price point. And now, Phenomenex can offer these excellent products, like Claricep™ flash columns that offers improved performance and less undesirable silica surface activity than regular flash columns, to our customers as well.

How will this benefit the flash chromatography customer?

This new partnership blends Agela’s firmly established line of flash products with the unrivaled chromatographic service and support of Phenomenex. Through this unique combination we are sable to serve customers in the field of flash chromatography, just as we already do in HPLC, GC, SPE and related areas of separation science. Some examples can be found in this new brochure.

Keep updated with how Phenomenex and Agela Technologies are planning to “wake up” the good old field of flash chromatography by following Science Unfiltered.

Questions about flash or Agela products? Reach out to us through Live Chat to talk with one of our technical experts nearly 24/7 globally. 

Download Brochure: Claricep Flash Brochure

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