For many synthetic chemists the primary purification goal is to isolate as much synthetic product as possible with a minimum of 80% purity. The go-to technique for product isolation is flash purification (flash chromatography), especially for intermediates.
Compound detection challenges are, for many chemists, a part of life. In a previous post I discussed how wavelength focusing can help your flash system detect and fractionate compounds with poor chromophores. However, compounds naked to UV-Vis light, such as carbohydrates, are impossible to detect by UV when separating by liquid chromatography.
There are some alternatives, however, and in this post I will discuss the application of evaporative light scattering detection (ELSD) to flash purification.
For most chemists, flash purification is a means to an end. In other words, it is a tool needed to purify and isolate one compound from a mixture of compounds so that the next reaction can occur with reduced by-product formation. Other than choosing between normal- or reversed-phase, there typically is not much thought put into cartridge selection, especially not related to stationary phase media porosity.
For most small molecules, this approach makes sense, but for larger molecules and very lipophilic compounds, factoring for media porosity should be included. In this post, I will discuss the impact media porosity can have on chromatographic performance.
Have you ever run flash column chromatography with mass detection (Flash-MS) and observed the total ion current or TIC increase during the purification only to find that there was no discernible compound contributing to the effect?
In this post I discuss how I came across this issue and the solution I found to work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Compounds precipitating during flash chromatography is at best an inconvenience when working up your crude reaction mixture. Precipitation during purification typically happens in the column or in the tubing exiting the column.
In this post, I will propose a strategy that can minimize and perhaps prevent this issue from occurring.
Split peaks? Multiple peaks? Are they really a problem? What causes the issue?
In this post I will discuss what split peaks are and what to do to fix the problem.
One of the more challenging purifications is that of water-soluble, ionizable compounds. Typically, normal-phase with silica is not used because of the probable non-reversible interactions, especially between the ionized amines interacting and the ionizable silanols. With normal-phase out of the purification solution that leaves ion exchange and reversed-phase as chromatographic options.
In this post I will discuss the use of reversed-phase and the influence pH and buffers have on the chromatography of some ionic, water soluble compounds.
Many chemists today find they need to synthesize molecules at higher temperatures in order to force difficult reactions to proceed. Solvents such as DMF, DMSO, and NMP are commonly used in these reactions as they facilitate the use of the high reaction temperatures. However, the same attributes that make these chemicals attractive as reaction solvents make compound recovery from them very difficult, including flash column chromatography. These high boiling solvents are typically polar and pose a challenge if purification is to be accomplished with normal-phase silica.
In order to perform flash chromatography consistently, the equipment you use must be properly maintained by following some “best practices”. These best practices include using clean solvents (I typically use ACS grade), volatile organic modifiers, and quality columns.
This is a question being asked of my colleagues and me more and more frequently, especially in pharma accounts. Why? Well, you are familiar with the adage – Time is Money, right. Well this really applies to them. A new molecular entity (NME) created as a pharmaceutical can take up to a decade and a billion dollars to bring to market. Granted, the biggest costs are in the clinical trials but the synthetic route and the time to discover and make the compound – and purify it – plays a major role within drug discovery and development. This timeline is not helped by the ever increasingly difficult-to-synthesize compounds being investigated as drug candidates today.
With that in mind, this post focuses on ways to speed the purification process without sacrificing purity and yield.