This, of course, is always one of the first questions an organic, medicinal, or peptide chemist has when starting the research process for a flash chromatography system. Here at Biotage, we receive this question hundreds and hundreds of times a year, likely within the first couple of minutes of any conversation.
But we get it. Price matters (along with many other factors). It can certainly dictate what system and what options you choose in the long run. You need to be able to develop an initial budget and plan for the ownership costs, no matter the system type.
As you might imagine, though, the problem with answering this question is the fact that a system with needed consumables has so many options it can be tough to truly know the starting price.
Still, I'll do my best here to give you some realistic price ranges as to what most people will spend. And remember, these flash chromatography system prices are average. They can vary drastically depending on your purification needs.
How much does a flash chromatography system cost?
Flash chromatography systems that can purify up 10-20 grams of material cost $20,000–$200,000, including installation and accessories. In addition, you need to plan on spending $1,000 to $5,000 (sometimes as much as $15,000) every year on consumables like columns and dry loading materials. Solvent expense can range similarly from $500 to 5,000 per year. Service costs are typically close to 10% of the purchase price.
If quantities to be purified exceed 10 grams these consumables (columns, dry loading materials, and solvents) can exceed $30,000 to $50,000 per year. As with any other system type, this can increase dramatically when you need to purify kilograms of materials.
Just the System
Occasionally a chemist just wants to buy the flash chromatography system by itself. Keep in mind that consumables are needed are needed for day-to-day operation. However, some people out there want to do everything themselves and buy every single component individually.
- Small system (capacity of 1 mg to 1 gram): $22,000–$26,000
- Medium system (capacity of 1 mg to 30 grams): $30,000–$50,000
- Large system (capacity of 50 mg to 500 grams):
- Industrial scale system (capacity up to 10 kilograms): $120,000-$200,000
(Keep in mind these price ranges do not include shipping, installation, applications training, accessories, consumables or on-going service, etc.)
Flash chromatography system shipping costs range from $100-$1,000
A basic installation costs $1,000-$3,000 and typically includes:
- Flash Chromatography System
- Initial testing
- Basic familiarization
- Demonstration of a successful test sample purification
Most basic system installations don't include other options like applications training.
(This, like everything else mentioned in this article, is contingent on a variety of factors.)
Following installation, a chemist can choose to have on-site training by a qualified applications specialist. This is something to consider if the user is new to automated flash systems so that the maximum value is enjoyed.
- Typical price range for on-site applications training: $3,000-$4,000 per day
There are several accessories that should be considered for your flash chromatography system. Here is a list in order of popularity.
- Dry loading vessel $350-$450
- UV-Vis detector $4,900-$7,000
- GMP compatible $25,000-$35,000
- Evaporative light scattering detector $9,000-$25,000
- Mass selective detector $50,000-$70,000
- Solvent catch tray $800-$1,000
- Solvent bottle rack $800-1,000
- Extended bed fraction collector $1,100
- TLC Plates $100-$500
The cost of a column is related to the amount of material, difficulty of the separation, and loading capacity of the column. An additional factor is the need for normal or reversed phase chromatography conditions.
Normal Phase Columns
If you are purifying 10-100 mg of material, a 25-gram standard-capacity column is fine. If you have chosen one of the more advanced, high capacity columns, a 10-gram column will often suffice.
Examples of costs of columns:
If you are going to run one column per day, you will likely use 200 columns in a year and should plan on spending $1,000-$6,000 per year on columns.
Single Use, Normal Phase Columns
Most normal phase flash chromatography is performed with columns that are used one time and disposed. This approach minimizes cross-contamination and assures repeatable results.
Multiple Use, Normal Phase Columns
Possibly the most common question we get regards re-using columns. Re-using columns is an option when purity of isolated compounds is not a priority and if abundant solvent is available to clean out columns between uses. After several 3-10 uses the column is thrown in the bin.
If you are considering re-using columns take, be sure to look at your solvent cost and hazardous waste disposal costs. Both will increase by 30-40% if you choose to re-use columns.
Re-using a normal phase column will reduce column costs, but the savings is often off set by increased solvent cost and disposal costs.
Re-packed, Normal Phase Columns
With this approach, you need to make a one-time purchase of a plunger to seal the top, some column bodies, and a keg of silica. With this approach your on-going expense is the silica and time needed to pack your own column. One additional issue is that your ability to reproducibly pack a column becomes more important.
Reversed Phase Flash Columns
Given proper care, reversed phase columns can last hundreds of injections. Costs for these columns are:
- 12-gram reversed phase columns $50-$70
Reversed Phase Semi-Preparative HPLC Columns
Prep HPLC columns can also be used and may be preferred for separations of polar molecules. With proper care, reversed phase columns can last hundreds or thousands of injections. Costs for these columns are:
- Preparative HPLC Columns with 15 µm particles $3,000-$10,000
Your lab supply provider usually offers disposable luer syringes. Use one for every liquid load of a column. If you are going to run a column a week, then you need around 200 syringes.
- 200 syringes $200
These handy devices are great for dry loading of samples dissolved in solvents when you want to remove the solvent prior to running the purification
- 20 Samplets for 10-gram columns with 1-gram of silica $105
- 20 Samplets for 25-gram columns with 3-gram of silica $157
Dry Loading Vessel
These are used for introducing larger quantities of dried materials
Surprisingly solvent costs can be quite high so be sure to consider approaches to purification that take this into account.
- Solvent cost for a single run of a 25-gram standard column $11.50
- Solvent cost for a single run of a 10-gram high performance column $3.90
A 30-40% increase in solvent costs can be expected if you plan to re-use normal phase columns.
Just like you have to maintain your car that came with a 3-year warranty with oil changes, tires, and brakes; flash chromatography systems need regular maintenance as well. All systems that I am aware of come with at least a 1-year warranty and the Biotage Selekt comes with a 5-year warranty.
- Annual service costs are $1,500-$4,000
All of these numbers and prices are very general. Still, I hope this article helps you to have a better feel for the cost of a flash chromatography system, the overall flash chromatography system pricing range, and what to expect when you start going through the system buying process.
We're happy to help you get an actual price for your dream system. You can get a quote today.