Schools Training

Cool Tools Used in High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Courses

24 MAY 2012
Career Path : High-Performance Liquid Chromatography

Beginner high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) courses aren’t the kind of classes that can be taken online. Introductory-level students need hands-on experience with the wide range of equipment used in chromatography labs. It is the only way to prepare for a future as a lab technician.

A lab technician?

HPLC courses prepare students for a chemistry-based career separating compounds into their individual components using a high pressure pump.

Graduates of HPLC courses fill a crucial role in our society, testing the water, food and medication we ingest.

So what are some of the tools you might see in HPLC courses?

HPLC courses teach students how to use a wide variety of equipment, including:

  • syringes
  • tubing
  • injection valves
  • ferrules
  • flange fittings
  • autosampling vials

For each piece of equipment, a seemingly endless array of accessories

For each tool, there is a seemingly endless choice of accessories. Students in HPLC courses must learn to distinguish between different kinds of syringe filters. Non-aqueous samples call for a certain kind of filter, aqueous samples call for another kind (cellulose acetate). Injection valves require injection valve loops, and so on!

Graduates of HPLC courses, AKA connoisseurs of tubing

Students in HPLC courses will learn to distinguish between the different types of HPLC tubing. Depending on what the tubing is made of, it can kink or bend, it can be used with all solvents or not with those containing metal ions, it can tolerate a lot of pressure or very little, etc.

Graduates of HPLC courses, AKA connoisseurs of injectors

HPLC courses must also prepare students to evaluate the differences between the different kinds of injectors used in chromatography.  Some are valued for their precision, others for their efficiency.

Graduates of HPLC courses, AKA connoisseurs of pumps

Graduates of HPLC courses must also be ready to distinguish between a wide variety of pumps, including  in-constant-pressure pumps, reciprocating piston pumps and syringe type pumps.

Graduates of HPLC courses, AKA connoisseurs, period

Ideally, HPLC courses should provide students with guidance in choosing the best, most cost-efficient system for the task at hand, whether pharmaceutical testing or food testing. As they progress in their studies, students may learn to distinguish between columns, degassers, autosamplers and various sterilization technologies.

What do classroom set-ups look like in HPLC courses?

Students of HPLC courses may have access to an HPLC testing station that includes a data station, a pump, a valve for injections, a loop that connects to a column and a detector interface.

Prospective students who are eager to see the inside of a classroom laboratory should contact a school near them. Most schools that offer HPLC courses offer open houses and guided tours, to give prospective students a chance to see the kind of equipment that they could be working with, in school and after.