General column regeneration procedure

Document created by rakotoni Employee on Sep 21, 2020Last modified by rakotoni Employee on Oct 22, 2020
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Agilent Support Insights

 

This Information Applies To:  All Agilent LC systems. 

 

Issue:

After analyzing dirty or concentrated samples, some sample compounds may retain in the column and other parts of the HPLC system. If the column re-equilibration after each run is not enough to elute the retained compounds, you will notice several performance problems. 

Tailing or wider peaks, higher background signal, or ghost peaks can be a sign of a contaminated column. The use of low-quality solvents can also be the cause of those symptoms. 

As you use your column and expose it to various mobile phases, analytes, and sample matrices, it will be subtly affected by these interactions and over time, there may be changes in its resolution. It’s important to keep a test chromatogram, from when your column was new, to compare and understand these changes in performance over time. If resolution degrades beyond an acceptable value for good quantitation, the column should be discarded and replaced with a new one.

 

Overview: 

Sometimes you can alleviate a high pressure or peak tailing issue by cleaning your column while backflushing it. Before cleaning your column, we recommend that you disconnect it from your detector and run your wash solvents into a beaker or other container. 

 

Check with your column manufacturer or review the instructions that came with your column before applying the following procedure. Start with the recommended cleaning or regeneration procedure from your column manufacturer. If it is not successful, you can use the procedure in this article as an alternative.

 

 

 

Steps to follow: 

Always use chromatographic grade solvents and wear the proper PPE.

Regeneration Procedure for Reversed-Phase Silica Columns

  • Disconnect the column and reconnect it to the system, with the flow through the column in the reversed direction. Do not connect the column to the detector to avoid contamination or clogging.
  • Flush out any salts/buffers with HPLC grade water. Pump 25 mL of water through the column at 1 mL/min.
  • Flush column with 25 mL of isopropanol.
  • Flush column with 25 mL of methylene chloride.
  • Flush column with 25 mL of hexane.
  • Flush column again with 25 mL of methylene chloride.
  • Flush column again with 25 mL of isopropanol.
  • Reconnect the column to the system, with the flow in the usual direction. Flush the column with the mobile phase without the buffer, then re-introduce the buffer.
  • Equilibrate the column with 25 to 50 mL of mobile phase.
  • Inject a standard or a sample to see if performance is restored.

 

Note: For some retained compounds that have fouled the column, dimethylformamide may be a better "cleaning" solvent than methylene chloride and hexane.

 

Regeneration Procedure for Normal-Phase Silica Column

  • Disconnect the column and reconnect it to the system, with the flow through the column in the reversed direction. Do not connect the column to the detector to avoid contamination or clogging.
  • Set the flow at 1 mL/min. Flush column with 50 mL of 50:50 methanol:chloroform.
  • Flush column with 50 mL of ethyl acetate.
  • Reconnect the column in the proper flow direction.
  • Equilibrate the column with 50 mL of mobile phase.
  • Inject a standard or a sample to see if performance is restored.

 

 

Tips: Follow the evolution of the signal and the background noise during the flush-out, especially before and after the regeneration procedure.

Learn more on how to effectively troubleshoot your column:

HPLC-0GEN-2201e - Chromatographic Troubleshooting for HPLC e-Learning course on Agilent University 

Keywords: LC columns, regeneration, carry-over, background noise, 

 

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