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Does your organization need to use gas chromatography?

As both awareness and published research about the therapeutic benefits of water containing dissolved hydrogen gas continue to grow, so too are the number of companies and organizations that are entering the hydrogen water sector. These include manufacturers of hydrogen water devices and prepackaged hydrogen water products, as well as researchers looking into hydrogen's potential medical applications. For those working with hydrogen gas on a consistent basis, the ability to accurately measure hydrogen concentrations in-house and in real-time can be an essential capability. Whether it takes place on a manufacturing assembly line or in a research lab, the ability to perform daily, hourly or even ad hoc testing can be crucial to the success of the project or business. While measurements using reagents or probes may suffice for some, the need for greater accuracy or to satisfy more stringent reporting requirements can often preclude their use, necessitating a test methodology that includes the use of certified calibration standards and approved testing protocols. Its proven accuracy combined with its ability to be calibrated using documented third-party calibration gas makes gas chromatography (GC) an ideal solution for the quantitative analysis of dissolved hydrogen gas.

Currently, testing using GC (arguably the most widely-used analytical tool in the world) is the gold standard, and the only dissolved hydrogen test method currently approved by the International Hydrogen Standards Association (IHSA) for measuring dissolved hydrogen. But, determining which system to purchase and training personnel to operate it can be very challenging. H2 Analytics has done the work for you, and can help you navigate the technical waters of hydrogen measurement using GC, as well as advise you in all aspects of the associated equipment, software, and training.

Does Your Organization Already Use GC?

If you already own a GC and use it for testing other substances, you may be able to retrofit your system to measure dissolved hydrogen. Some important considerations include the choice of carrier gas, column & adsorbent, type of detector, and the need for additional software and equipment. 

1) Many GC systems use either hydrogen or helium as their carrier gas. While they work well when measuring most substances, if you currently use hydrogen or helium as your carrier gas, you will need to select another gas. For obvious reasons, hydrogen cannot be used as the carrier gas when measuring hydrogen. And, because its thermal characteristics are too close to hydrogen, helium is also not a good choice.

2) Because hydrogen has the smallest molar mass of all molecules, as a gas it also diffuses at the fastest rate. Therefore, column type, length, and adsorbent must be carefully selected to ensure that the column retention time (relative to other dissolved gases) does not result in peak overlap and signal distortion.

3) The detector used for measuring hydrogen is a temperature-controlled thermal conductivity detector (TCD).

4) While all GC software performs peak integration (area under the curve) and displays the resulting chromatograms in a similar fashion, custom programs external to the GC can be helpful in streamlining the calibration, testing, and data analysis functions and can contribute to a reduction in human error. Additionally, specialized laboratory equipment, including headspace equilibrators, syringes, and sealed containment vessels may also be required.

It should be noted that, while your organization may have the necessary equipment and technical expertise, quantitative analysis of hydrogen using GC poses some unique challenges, and accurate, reliable and repeatable results depend on knowledge of and adherence to very specific calibration and testing protocols. H2 Analytics can help your organization trim months off of the time required to implement quantitative GC analysis of hydrogen.

For more details on our consulting services, please contact us using our Contact page.

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