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3 Ways to Reduce Your Helium Usage

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Description 

Helium scarcity continues to be a pain point for gas chromatography. Prices are trending upward, supplies can be hard to source, and it’s a problem that isn’t going to go away. 

In this Restek Tip, we share three different ways to reduce your gas usage to get the most out of your helium cylinders. 

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Transcript 

Helium scarcity continues to be a pain point for gas chromatography. Prices are trending upward, supplies can be hard to source, and it’s a problem that isn’t going to go away.  

In this Restek Tip, we’re going to share three different ways to reduce your helium usage. And we’re going to start with…  

Leak Checking  

We talk about gas leaks a lot in our videos, and for good reason: they’re frustrating. Gas leaks can disrupt your flow path, resulting in a loss of sample and poor chromatography. However, eliminating leaks can also save you a large amount of helium.  

When checking for leaks, it’s important to use an electronic leak detector.  

Start at the beginning—the source—and work your way through the instrument to the detector. Pay close attention to critical seals and valves; especially whenever you perform any maintenance.   

We recommend leak checking as part of your routine maintenance to help spot leaks early and ensure high-quality chromatography.  

Gas Saver Mode  

Did you know your GC has a mode to reduce helium usage? It’s often called ‘Gas Saver Mode’ or ‘Carrier Gas Saver’, but what does it do?  

When performing split injection analyses, a high split ratio could have a large amount of your carrier gas passing through the split vent. Gas saver mode works by reducing the split vent flow at a set time after the sample has been injected. Let’s look at an example:  

Here we’re running an analysis with a 2 mL/min column flow and a 3 mL/min septum purge. We have a 100:1 split ratio, and a total helium flow of 205 mL/min.  

Gas Saver Mode activates one minute after sample injection, which reduces our split flow to our set rate of 20 mL/min. 

Our column flow and septum purge are unchanged, resulting in a total helium flow of 25 mL/min. Gas Saver Mode will then shut off prior to the next injection.  

Using our scenario as a guide, you would see a 79% decrease in helium usage across just 100 analyses. 

Check with your GC manufacturer to see how to use gas saver mode on your instrument. 

Shut Down the GC  

If your GC isn’t going to be used for an extended period, cool the heated zones and shut off the gas flow to the instrument. Keep in mind that when you resume performing analyses, you will need to purge the column before heating it to a high temperature.  

Now, what about alternate carrier gases?  

Well, depending on your specific needs and the types of analyses you run, switching carrier gas may be a possibility. Hydrogen and nitrogen are affordable, widely available, and can be produced by gas generators right at your lab bench. 

While switching away from helium may not be a solution for every lab, the cost savings and supply stability make alternate carrier gases worth considering.  

These tips can help you conserve your gas and get the most out of your helium cylinders.   

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about switching carrier gas, check out the resources below and visit us at https://www.restek.com 

Thank you for joining us for this Restek Tip!

GNAV3671-UNV

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