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Things to Consider Before Ordering a Packed Column

25 Apr 2013

Let’s say you are starting your next GC project and realize that it is a packed column method.  However, you normally use capillary columns, and are not familiar with what you need to know before you order a new packed column. Believe me when I say “you are not alone.” Hopefully this post will help simplify the transition from a capillary column method to a packed column method.

The first thing you should do is to review our Packed Column FAQ’s. These FAQs explain how to obtain a quote and/or how to order a packed column. There is also useful information on how to install and condition your packed column.

Let’s assume your method specifies which packed column is recommended. If so, our FAQ #1 "How do I order a packed GC column?" should be the first place to look to determine if we already have a catalog number available. If you find the column you need, but not for the instrument you will be using, take a look at the suffix list below and see if your instrument make/model is listed. If it is, just add the three-digit suffix to the five-digit packed column catalog number. If not, we will need you to provide Customer Service with the packed column dimensions. 

-810 Agilent 5880, 5890, 5987, 6890, 7890
-811 Agilent 6850
-820 Bruker/Varian 3700,Vista Series, FID
-821 Bruker/Varian 3800
-830 PerkinElmer 900-3920, Sigma 1,2,3
-840 PerkinElmer Auto System 8300, 8400, 8700, Clarus 500 (C500)
-841 PerkinElmer Auto Sys XL
-845 ABB 3100, AAI (4" coil)
-850 Shimadzu 14A, 2014
-851 Shimadzu 8A
-852 Shimadzu 9A
-853 Shimadzu 17A, 2010
-854 Shimadzu Mini 2
-860 Thermo Scientific - TRACE 2000, Trace 1300/1310
-865 Carlo Erba
-870 Tremetrics/Tracor
-874 HNU 310 & 311 (4.5" coil)
-875 Analytical Controls Configuration
-880 Carle 40030
-881 Hitachi 263
-885 Pye Unicam 4500
-890 Gow Mac 590
-891 Gow Mac 550
-892 Gow Mac 750
-893 Gow Mac 816 (3" coil, 3" spread on the arms, and a total height of 5")
-894 Gow Mac 580
-895 SRI 8610C
-895R SRI 8610C Dual GC Right Side
-895L SRI 8610C Dual GC Left Side
-896 SRI 9300

If we don’t list a column which matches what is specified in the method, or your instrument is not listed above (especially true for In-Line and Process GCs), you will need to complete our Custom Packed Column Form. Once submitted, Customer Service will generate a quote for the requested column. Please verify everything is correct before ordering, because custom products are non-returnable and non-refundable.

Once you have determined which packed column you will order, make sure you have the necessary fittings, ferrules and/or adaptors to install it into your particular GC. For most packed column GCs, a ferrule and nut may be all that is needed. Or, you may need certain adaptors. Because of the wide variety of GCs manufactured, there is no way for us to know what you may need, so some preliminary planning on your part will prevent you from receiving a packed column that you cannot immediately install and use. Several of the most common calls we (tech service) receive are:

1.  The customer has a capillary column injection port. (Note: Consider using a “pigtail” as shown in the photo below).

2.  The customer has a Shimadzu GC with metric fittings (Note: Restek does not carry metric fittings or adaptors).

3.  The customer has an older GOW-Mac that uses 1/8 inch packed columns which have 1/4 inch “ballooned” ends.  Note: Restek does not carry specialty 1/8 inch OD (outside diameter) tubing with 1/4 inch OD ends.

We do, however, offer 1/8" VCR fittings.  For example, the GOW Mac 590 GC uses VCR fittings (Kit VSS) These are soldered to the ends of the column. Please note that for columns you select as "packed full", there will still need to be small voids at each column end so the packing is not damaged by the heat from the soldering process.  Also note that frits cannot be used with Kit-VSS since they have to be seated at the ends; as a result, we use wool for end plugs.

4.  Small oven GCs or GCs which contain multiple columns. (Note: To make sure your column will fit into your oven, please specify the necessary dimensions on the Custom Packed Column Form)



In summary, purchasing a packed column and necessary fittings (for installation) can be a time consuming, and sometimes frustrating task for those who normally use capillary columns, but spending a little extra time prior to any purchases can save you days, or even weeks, and frustration. Restek Customer Service is here to help you with your questions prior to purchase, and Technical Service after your purchase. Thanks for reading.