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Since its inception in 1973, nothing captures the current state, the emerging challenges, and the future direction of liquid chromatography like the International Symposium of High-Performance Liquid Phase Separations and Related Techniques (HPLC Conference). HPLC Conference 2023 returned to Germany, being hosted in Düsseldorf, and the event featured a lineup of keynote speakers, technical sessions, and posters where leading scientists shared their research.
Among the various major topics discussed, the fields of pharma and biopharma attracted significant interest due to the accelerated applications brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, polymer analysis emerged as a hot topic, driven by the European Union’s goal to characterize and register 200,000 polymers by 2030 as required by the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation1.
PerkinElmer was proud to be a part of HPLC 2023, and our scientists presented their own work detailing methods for various markets and showcasing the performance of a number of instruments and column chemistries. Visit our HPLC Conference Resources page and download your copies of PerkinElmer’s HPLC 2023 poster presentations.
Although a variety of topics were presented, the conference saw some recurring themes. In this post we will summarize some of these main recurring themes.
Liquid chromatography methods have traditionally relied on significant quantities of organic solvents derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the production and disposal of these solvents contribute to environmental pollution and carbon emissions. Moreover, the process generates substantial amounts of additional waste, including used columns, cartridges, and sample vials, which pose challenges for recycling and proper disposal.
The sustainability concerns related to liquid chromatography have led researchers to search for different approaches for the development and adoption of more eco-friendly and resource-efficient analytical methods.
Valérie Pichon from ESPCI Paris and Sorbonne University presented on green and selective sample preparation methods that improve the analysis of complex samples2. Conventional extraction techniques, such as liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) and solid-phase extraction (SPE), have extensive solvent requirements. Pichon’s team recognized this issue and addressed it by miniaturizing the extraction devices. This reduction in size not only decreases the amount of solvent needed but also offers additional benefits like enhanced portability and improved efficiency. By utilizing smaller volumes of solvent, researchers can significantly reduce the environmental impact and costs associated with sample preparation.
Pichon’s presentation and many others validated the sustainability of their methods by using the Analytical GREEnness (AGREE) calculator. In 2020 Francisco Pena-Pereira et al. proposed this metric system for assessing the greenness of analytical procedures in the field of green analytical chemistry (GAC)3. The metric system aims to evaluate the environmental impact, safety, and efficiency of analytical methodologies by considering various criteria such as the amounts and toxicity of reagents, generated waste, energy requirements, number of procedural steps, miniaturization, and automation.
The assessment criteria are taken from 12 principles of green analytical chemistry and are transformed into a unified 0–1 scale. The result is a pictogram indicating the final score, performance of the analytical procedure in each criterion, and weights assigned by the user.
Read more in this application note about a green chemistry method for the accurate quantitation of six additives in diet soft drinks using HPLC with photodiode array (PDA) detection, which can help reducing hazardous solvent waste.
The path to sustainability and thoughtful use of resources intersects with the digitalization of the lab. The digital transformation of the lab-of-the-future requires a systematic approach that encompasses the connection of the lab instrumentation, management of information and processes and automation opportunities.
During his tutorial Approaching the digital transformation of the lab-of-the-future – How to implement new automation strategies, Thorsten Teutenberg, from the Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology (IUTA), Duisburg, Germany presented the case study of the “FutureLab.NRW” project”4.
The first step for implementing the lab of the future was the transformation to a paperless lab, where analysis and processes are stored and accessible via electronic lab notebook, LIMS and Lab Execution Systems. These platforms are connected, with data coming from the instrumentation and the lab itself (e.g., temperature, maintenance info etc.). This awareness can help create the best conditions for analysis.
Dr. Joachim Richert, the vice president of analytical sciences at BASF, during his plenary lecture confirmed that, although the technology needed for lab digitalization is there, the full integration into the lab, creating a central communication method between all aspects of the lab’s operation, remains a challenge5.
The integration of existing devices and systems is therefore an important first step in making data usable for further processing and analysis. End-to-end process transparency is of central importance for laboratories. Laboratory managers often spend a lot of time monitoring devices and manually collating data. The lab digitalization can help streamline lab workflows, for example mitigating the “four-eyes rule” in the case of clinical samples and it introduces the next step of automation.
Laboratory automation has long played a crucial role in the field of analytics. To leverage the advantages of automation for the analytical lab, Thorsten Teutenberg and his group at the Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology (IUTA), developed a robotic experimental setup that can help automate parts of the analytical workflow, for example sample handling and sample preparation before HPLC analysis. At present, this involves significant native programming, but the concept has potential to help minimize manual errors and optimize the speed and precision of routine tasks, even for accredited labs. Most importantly, this experimental set-up is opening the future for robotics for the lab, even in the form of autonomous mobile robots.
In conclusion, the HPLC Conference 2023 provided invaluable insights into the current and future research carried out with liquid chromatography and its related techniques. The recurring themes of sustainability, digitalization, and automation showcased the industry’s commitment to advancing eco-friendly practices, embracing technological advancements, and streamlining laboratory workflows.
Do you see any other trends for HPLC? Talk to PerkinElmer about your current challenges and discover how PerkinElmer can help you address your HPLC needs. Check the solutions here.
2. Pichon, V. Green and Selective Sample Preparation Methods. Presented at: HPLC 2023. June 18–22, 2023. Duesseldorf, Germany. KN44.
3. AGREE—Analytical GREEnness Metric Approach and Software, Francisco Pena-Pereira, Wojciech Wojnowski, and Marek Tobiszewski, Analytical Chemistry 2020 92 (14), 10076-10082, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c01887
4. Teutenberg, T. Tutorial on Approaching the digital transformation of the lab-of-the-future – How to implement new automation strategies. Presented at: HPLC 2023. June 18–22, 2023. Duesseldorf, Germany. Tutorial 5.
5. Richert, J. Digital Transformation of the Analytical Laboratory—Big Bang or Evolution? Presented at: HPLC 2023. June 18–22, 2023. Duesseldorf, Germany. PLO4.
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