Welcome to the Biotage Flash Purification Blogs.

    What is the Chemistry Behind Normal-Phase Flash Chromatography?

    February 11, 2020 at 3:44 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Normal Phase

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    Our clientele at Biotage have interesting and diverse backgrounds from highly skilled synthetic chemists, to experts in natural product chemistry, to those who are just beginning they journey with chemistry. What I have learned over my 40+ year career in the “art” of chromatography is that for many of these fine folks there is a lack of understanding about chromatographic principles. This lack of understanding, I believe, is only due to their core study curriculum where separation science is used as a tool during lab work but the principles behind why a mixture’s components separate (or do not separate) perhaps are not effectively explained, understood, or studied.

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    When should I use a pH modifier in flash column chromatography gradient?

    February 11, 2020 at 3:15 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals

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    Have you ever experienced compound tailing or streaking on your TLC plate or flash chromatography results and wondered what in the world is going on here? Well, there can be multiple reasons for this problem including poor mass-transfer kinetics, secondary solute-sorbent interactions, or unstable compound chemistry.

    In this post, I will discuss one technique that has been shown to work time and time again to address the issue.

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    How can I modify my flash chromatography method to separate chemically similar compounds?

    February 11, 2020 at 3:13 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Reversed-phase, Solvents, Sfär, Selekt, Media and Resin, Normal Phase

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    The challenges organic, medicinal, and natural product chemists face are many: from designing reactions, to optimizing synthesis, work-up / extraction, and purification / isolation of the desired compound or compounds. Among those issues related to purification / isolation is the common problem of separating compounds with similar chemistry that either co-elute or separate poorly.

    In this post I will discuss some tips on how to "resolve" this issue (yes, pun intended).

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    What do I do if a 2-solvent gradient will not separate my sample?

    February 11, 2020 at 3:12 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Solvents, Troubleshooting and Optimization, Normal Phase, Isolera

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    Usually, a 2-solvent or binary gradient will separate your desired compound from the by-products and impurities. Sometimes though, you can encounter a mixture in which some compounds co-elute and are not separable with any binary gradient you try.

    I encountered this situation recently while trying to purify a lavender essential oil and have dedicated this post to how I solved the problem. 

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    Flash system UV detectors – similarities and differences

    February 4, 2020 at 10:28 AM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Selekt, Detector

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    Flash purification is a preparative liquid chromatography technique. As such, it incorporates the same types of components as preparative high-pressure liquid chromatography (pHPLC) – pump, gradient mixer, column, UV detector, and fraction collector. Though all flash chromatography systems are purpose-built and essentially work the same, the one area of difference is in the UV detector design and operation.

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    Why do I see more peaks than I expect with flash column chromatography?

    January 8, 2020 at 3:23 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Solvents, Troubleshooting and Optimization, Normal Phase, Isolera

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    Are you observing more chromatographic peaks than you expect compared to TLC or other assessment data?  Well, it could be that your method is separating some isomers or, it could be that there is an actual method issue.

    In this post I will discuss what could cause a method issue and suggest some ideas as to how to fix it.

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    Can I use TLC for reversed-phase flash column chromatography method development?

    January 7, 2020 at 8:49 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Reversed-phase, Troubleshooting and Optimization, Media and Resin, HPLC

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    I am often asked why reversed-phase TLC data does not translate well to reversed-phase flash column chromatography.  There are several reasons for this and in this post I will attempt to explain the challenges associated with reverse-phase TLC as a method development tool for reversed-phase flash chromatography.

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    Does Size Really Matter in Flash Chromatography? Part 2

    January 7, 2020 at 8:46 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Sfär, Scale-Up, Normal Phase

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    In a previous post I talked about column size, specifically long-thin versus short-fat and the impact of the cartridge’s dimensions on purification performance. With that comparison I showed that in preparative chromatography, purification efficiency is more about the amount of silica than column dimensions. Cartridges of different dimensions containing the same amount of the same media will provide the same separation efficiency.

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    Does size really matter in flash chromatography? Part 1

    January 7, 2020 at 8:43 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Normal Phase

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    Yes, the title is a bit salacious but it got your attention, didn’t it? I believe this is a topic worthy of discussion as it relates to flash chromatography for purification because many chemists believe longer but thinner columns perform better than short, wide columns.  The facts of the matter may surprise you.

    In this post I discuss the impact that cartridge dimensions have on purification performed using flash purification.

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    How do I decide between normal- or reversed-phase flash column chromatography?

    December 30, 2019 at 4:49 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Reversed-phase, Green, Normal Phase, Isolera, HPLC

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    Choosing a good purification strategy is an important for successful crude compound purification. A major factor in your strategy is choosing between normal-phase or reversed-phase chromatography.  How do you choose?

    In this post, I will provide some simple guidance on helping determine which route to take.

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    Are there advantages to stacking flash chromatography columns?

    December 30, 2019 at 4:38 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Normal Phase

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    When it comes to isolating a compound from a mixture at maximum purity there are many options available through flash column chromatography. In previous posts I have addressed using smaller particle media, higher surface area media, and step gradients to achieve this goal.

    In this post I will discuss how stacking columns in series may help improve separation quality.

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    Pushing flash column chromatography loading limits

    December 30, 2019 at 3:39 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Green, Sfär, Loading Techniques, Cost, Normal Phase, Pillar Page

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    A question I hear a lot from chemists is “how much can I load”. The answer is always “it depends on your separation quality”.  At that point I begin asking about the TLC data and purification goals. Purification goal setting should be your first step and the question to answer is – what do I need this purification to achieve? Is the goal high purity, high yield, or some combination.  Remember, you will typically sacrifice purity for high yield and yield for high purity so optimization is an important consideration.

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    How do I purify ionizable organic amine compounds using flash column chromatography?

    November 21, 2019 at 3:59 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Amine, Chromatography Fundamentals, Solvents, Troubleshooting and Optimization, Green, Media and Resin

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    For most organic reaction mixture purifications the process is fairly straightforward. Use hexane/ethyl acetate or, for polar compounds, DCM/MeOH.  But what do you do if this doesn't work and your compounds are basic organic amines?

    In this post, I re-examine the options available to achieve an acceptable organic amine purification when typical separation methods are insufficient.

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    Does particle shape and/or particle size impact flash column chromatography load limits?

    November 21, 2019 at 3:51 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Media and Resin, Normal Phase, Isolera

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    There are many factors which influence successful flash column chromatography. One of those factors is sample load, which itself is influenced by things like selectivity, efficiency, dissolution solvent, and load technique. Several of these factors I have addressed in previous posts. Of these, selectivity and efficiency are specific to a media's physical and chemical characteristics.

    In this post I will show if particle size and/or particle shape can influence loading capacity.  Additionally, I will show the positive impact that surface area has on flash column chromatography purification.

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    Why can’t I reproduce my TLC separation using flash column chromatography?

    November 21, 2019 at 3:48 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Troubleshooting and Optimization, Normal Phase

    9 Comments

    You have performed your synthesis and now it is time to purify the reaction mix. You have used thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and see a separation but when you try to purify with flash column chromatography, you can’t get the target compound separated from an impurity. So, what is happening (or isn’t happening)?

    In this post I will give some input on why some separations are not transferable from TLC.

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    How does mobile phase organic solvent choice impact reversed-phase flash column chromatography?

    November 21, 2019 at 3:45 PM / by Bob Bickler posted in Chromatography Fundamentals, Reversed-phase, Solvents, Normal Phase, Isolera

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    Organic and medicinal chemists frequently utilize flash chromatography to purify their reaction mixtures. Normal-phase flash chromatography is most often used but may not the best methodology, especially when the compounds are quite polar and/or ionizable.

    For these molecules, reversed-phase flash chromatography is preferred but often is not used due to an uncertainty regarding the best solvent choices and the reversed-phase mechanism.  In this post, I will discuss how organic solvent choice in reversed-phase chromatography can influence the chromatographic separation.

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