There are a variety of types of liquid chromatography. There is liquid adsorption chromatography in which an adsorbent is used. This method is used in large-scale applications since adsorbents are relatively inexpensive. There is also liquid- liquid chromatography which is analogous to gas-liquid chromatography. The three types that will be considered here fall under the category of modern liquid chromatography. They are reverse phase, high performance and size exclusion liquid chromatography, along with supercritical fluid chromatography.
Reverse phase chromatography is a powerful analytical tool and involves a hydrophobic, low polarity stationary phase which is chemically bonded to an inert solid such as silica. The separation is essentially an extraction operation and is useful for separating non-volatile components.
High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is similar to reverse phase, only in this method, the process is conducted at a high velocity and pressure drop. The column is shorter and has a small diameter, but it is equivalent to possessing a large number of equilibrium stages.
Size exclusion chromatography, also known as gel permeation or filtration chromatography does not involve any adsorption and is extremely fast. The packing is a porous gel, and is capable of separating large molecules from smaller ones. The larger molecules elute first since they cannot penetrate the pores. This method is common in protein separation and purification.
Supercritical fluid chromatography is a relatively new analytical tool. In this method, the carrier is a supercritical fluid, such as carbon dioxide mixed with a modifier. Compared to liquids, supercritical fluids have solubilities and densities have as large, and they have diffusivities and viscosities quite a bit larger. This type of chromatography has not yet been implemented on a large scale.
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