How to increase the detectors' lifetime and ensure the best accuracy of the process chromatographs?
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That's why I shared last week my first e-book about the top 10 most common mistakes in process chromatographs for all community, on page 11 and 12, I discussed a little about this subject that we will deal with in more detail here. To get your free copy, just click here!
So here we go!
HOW to increase the detectors' lifetime and ensure the best accuracy of the process chromatographs?
1) Avoid contamination of the detector during the carrier gas (cylinder) replacement:
Carrier gas replacement (routine for cylinders) is the time when the team needs to be more observant and careful. While depressurizing of the pressure regulator valve and tubbings, contamination with atmospheric air occurs and it must be purged out to the atmosphere, Do not allow this air to travel to the detectors and columns. The presence of moisture and oxygen in the detector causes a notable loss of sensitivity and a reduction in the life of the detector, occurring oxidation in the filaments and drastically reduces the sensitivity, also causing deviations in the baseline.
2) Install an automatic change-over carrier gas switching system
When we have several people responsible for the routine and maintenance of process chromatographs, some additional care must be taken to avoid negligence and possible contamination of the detectors with humidity during the replacements of the drag gas cylinders.
I recommend installing a change-over system which is responsible for automatic switching when the main cylinder loses its pressure, which immediately aligns the backup (spare) cylinder avoiding contamination with atmospheric air and also increases the availability of analyzer for the process, because at any time the system will transit without the intervention of the maintenance team!
Basically, this automatic maneuver allows the replacement of empty cylinders without interruption in the operation of the analyzer. Attention should be paid to the cylinder replacement procedure (removal of the empty cylinder) since during the installation of a new (full) cylinder the technician must purge the atmospheric contamination (oxygen, dust, moisture, etc.) before performing the final alignment.
Be very careful: even though it is an extremely useful and practical system, it is necessary to purge the cylinder during the changeover (connection at the regulator inlet), never forget it! Otherwise it may cause a possible process disturbance after switching due to the presence of moisture, and this would be a "shot" in the foot, because it would generate an emergency call at any time, for example, in the middle of the night ...
This device is supplied by several manufacturers, that is, item of easy purchase and installation.
3) Installation of a filter system (drier) in the carrier gas circuit.
Another widely used practice is the installation of silica pipes, dryers installed in series in the carrier gas circuit. These prevent moisture from flowing through the detector, so special care must be taken to avoid major disturbances.
When it gets saturated, a huge amount of moisture is trapped internally, and this can cause much more damage, as a volume of liquid will be drawn which can damage the detector at once, imagine on the separation columns and possible sample loop obstruction.
We must periodically replace the dryers according to their saturation, depending on the size of the dryer, it is estimated a few years of operation, but it is necessary to check the flow through it and estimate an average time for replacement, anticipate replacement and avoid troubles. Generally, this system remains efficient for several years, control is needed to avoid generating problems in teams with high turnover.
4) Carrier Gas - High Quality Needed
Knowing that "paper does not refuse ink", we must always make sure that the contaminants reported by the carrier gas manufacturer are actually within the parameters and concentrations required.
The presence of contaminants in pure gas cylinders is not impossible as we know that the decontamination process of the empty cylinders must be very well performed to ensure the purity of the gas.
If you have any suspicions or if the detectors has poor durability, be wary of the carrier gas that is supplied. A good test to be performed to observe the purity of the gas is to use the gas with flame ionization detectors, these are very sensitive and brutally oscillate the baseline, so you will easily notice that the contaminant content is above the reported.
5) Pressure regulator valve replacement
Never reuse a pressure regulator valve for the carrier gas circuit. Always use a new one, fully decontaminated, dust and moisture-free valve. Very careful at the time of installation to avoid the entry of contaminants and particulates such as dust or filings from the connections and tubbings.
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