Agilent Technologies Inc. (Agilent) has introduced a new low thermal mass (LTM) system for rapid heating and cooling of its 7890A gas chromatograph (GC), increasing productivity by chiefly reducing analytical cycle times. This option is also available for the older Agilent 6890 GC.

Agilent acquired this LTM technology with the purchase of RVM Scientific in June 2008. The patented design involves wrapping heating elements and temperature sensors directly around the GC column, enabling dramatically faster temperature cycles compared to standard oven-based configurations.

Customers constantly tell us they want to run more samples per shift, and our new LTM delivers this in a big way, said Shanya Kane, Agilent vice president and general manager, Gas Chromatography Systems and Workflow Automation. We’re constantly seeking ways to make GC and GC/MS more productive for routine analyses and challenging applications, and this is the latest example of success in these efforts.

Synergy with Agilent Capillary Flow Technology

The fast cycle times of LTM are particularly well-suited for the hydrocarbon industry, environmental analysis, food safety testing, forensics, pharmaceutical QA/QC and food/flavor/fragrance analysis. Until now, due to their interwoven heating elements, a concern about LTM columns was protecting the inlet end of the column from contamination. Agilent already had a solution to this problem with its capillary flow technology.

Using this proprietary, leak-free method of flow connection and diversion, Agilent developed a robust backflush function, letting users flush high boiling compounds back out of the column inlet to extend column life. This technique has the added benefit of eliminating time-consuming column bake-out of these late eluting compounds, further increasing throughput by a wide margin.

Agilent capillary flow technology also enables other useful configurations, including multidimensional GC and comprehensive GC for complex samples. With LTM technology, multiple LTM column modules can be temperature programmed for simultaneous, independent operation.

Little Change to Existing Methods

The Agilent LTM option uses the same injectors, detectors and fused silica columns of the Agilent 7890A or 6890, requiring little change to existing GC and GC/MS methods. Agilent Method Translation Software makes any desired changes easy to achieve.

The LTM configuration delivers excellent retention time repeatability comparable to conventional GC.

LTM hardware consists of a replacement door for the Agilent 7890A or 6890 GC, containing built-in electronics and slots for one to four GC column modules. LTM control software integrates with specific Agilent software platforms, including GC and GC/MS ChemStation, for convenient operation. If desired, the instrument can still be used as a conventional oven-based GC.