Translator for HPLC HINTS and TIPS for Chromatographers

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The HPLC Restriction Capillary; Troubleshooting, Qualification and Running Without A Column:

When we want to closely replicate the operation of an HPLC system under "normal" conditions and do not want to use an HPLC column in-line, we install a "restrictor" in its place. A restriction capillary is often a very narrow ID section of long tubing (capillary) which will restrict the flow of mobile phase through it. For most HPLC systems, a restrictor which provides about 1,000 psi (~ 70 Bars) of back-pressure will closely replicate normal operating conditions. The restrictor can be chosen based on length, ID, volume and your flow rate to create this level of back-pressure. You could place a high pressure rated, zero-dead-volume union its place, but in doing so, the system back-pressure may be extremely low and show poor pump performance. An HPLC column, with its densely packed small particles inside adds a great deal of back-pressure to the HPLC system and that back-pressure greatly improves the stability of the baseline. HPLC Columns prevents pulsations by acting as a dampener and/or system buffer. Most types of HPLC pumps will not operate properly without 20 or more bars of back-pressure on their outlets to prevent cavitation and excessive pulsation. Columns play a vital role in stabilizing the baseline during an analylsis.

There will be times when you need to operate the HPLC system without an HPLC column installed.

For Example: 
  • Troubleshooting sources of contamination, carryover or artifact peaks on a column;
  • Measuring the HPLC system delay volume (gradient delay);
  • Testing the performance of the injector;
  • Testing the performance of the pump; 
  • Testing the performance of a detector module;
  • Running HPLC Operational Qualification Tests (OQ);
  • Running HPLC Installation Qualification Tests (IQ);
  • Running Performance Verification Tests on a Module (PV);
  • Running many of the ASTM Tests (e.g. "Baseline Noise & Drift Test").
Example of a commercially available Restriction Capillary (Agilent P/N G1312-67500). You will want to include any needed details of the restriction capillary chosen for your work in the SOP's that you write which utilize it as part of a test (P/N, source, volume...).