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GC & GC/MS Helium to Hydrogen Conversion Quick Reference Guide

Tu, 10.1.2023
| Original article from: ChromSolutions
This quick reference guide is set out to provide information on using and converting a instrument or a whole laboratory from helium to hydrogen.
Pixabay/Bruno/Germany: GC & GC/MS Helium to Hydrogen Conversion Quick Reference Guide

Pixabay/Bruno/Germany: GC & GC/MS Helium to Hydrogen Conversion Quick Reference Guide

The issues from converting from helium to hydrogen are:

  • Safety
  • Instrument modifications
  • Method changes (particularly within regulatory compliance industries)
  • Time to develop/revalidate a method
  • Knowledge and persons/company to perform the change

Safety

If you want to use hydrogen and do not have a supply in the laboratory with the appropriate safety, we would recommend a hydrogen generator. The generators come in different capacities depending on your requirements and have intrinsic safety features to limit hydrogen uses in cases of leaks or sudden pressure drops.

In addition all GC manufacturers have hydrogen sensors that can be fitted to the GC which will shutdown the instrument if an unexpected leak should occur.

Instrument Modifications

If there is currently a hydrogen supply to the instrument the process for the instrument is relatively simple. However before you proceed you may need to check the requirements from the manufacturers.

This is particularly applicable to thermal desorbers (TD) and detectors such as PDHID, TCD and ECD. The performance of a TD and these detectors can also be application dependent, however there are further modifications that can be made to minimise detrimental effects.

We would recommend a switching system (manual or automated) so you can switch between gases. This is a low cost and will enable the customer to maintain their existing analysis and develop and test/validate a new method without the possibility of instrument downtime and ingress of air.

After changing carrier gas you will need to change the EPC configuration on a modern instrument to the new carrier, so as the correct flows or pressures can be displayed.

💡💡💡 Selection from dozens of Helium to Hydrogen in GC & GC/MS webinars

  • Converting from Helium to Hydrogen Gas
  • Combating the Helium Shortage: Making the Switch from Helium to an Alternative Carrier Gas
  • Products & Applications Series - Helium Part 2: Save it or Swap it!
  • From Helium to Hydrogen in GC-MS/MS
  • Choosing a different carrier gas in GC
  • Helium Shortage 4.0: Is hydrogen carrier gas the solution to the GC–MS problem?
  • Eliminating Dependency on Helium Supply for Your Thermal Desorption GC/MS Analysis
  • Alternative Carrier Gases for GC and GC-MS
  • Making the Switch from Helium to Hydrogen or Nitrogen Carrier Gas
  • Try Hydrogen and Nitrogen as Alternative Carrier Gases
  • Strategies to Mitigate for Rising Helium Gas Costs
  • Strategies to Save Helium and best practice for alternative GC carriers
  • Deliver more by using hydrogen carrier gas in thermal desorption-GC(MS) workflows
  • Using nitrogen as a GC-MS carrier gas: Opportunities to eliminate reliance on helium
  • Designed for Speed: A Fast-GC Forum
  • What’s Next After Helium? - Conserving or Switching Carrier Gas
  • Hydrogen as an alternative to Helium for GC

Method Changes

Methods will need to be adapted or modified to the carrier gas changes. This would be mainly carrier gas and detector flow adjustments. However changes will be required to data handling parameters and realignment and recalibration of targeted and non targeted compounds.

Method Development/Validation

As the method parameters will need to change due to the new carrier gas, the analytical method will need to be revalidated. This will require parameters such as LOD’s, linear range, repeatability, accuracy, robustness and recovery and /or whatever the regulatory body or bespoke requirements are.

Knowledge to Change

Instrument configurations and applications are numerous, therefore whoever performs the conversions need to consider all of the issues and have a detailed knowledge of your existing and future measurements for a successful outcome.

Benefits of Hydrogen vs Helium

The benefits of using hydrogen are:

  • Readily available (on demand with generators)
  • Lower cost
  • Speed of analysis
  • Improved separation

Specific considerations are detailed below.

FID detector
  • Could operate with 2 gases (H₂ and Air)
  • Detector flows may have to be replumbed, adjusted and reoptimised and N₂ or air used as make up flow as an alternative.
MS (mass spectrometry) detector
  • May require less source cleaning
  • You might need to purchase a newer source that is more inert to limit fragmentation. Direct flows into the source maybe limited to < 1.5ml/min. However there are work arounds to these issues.
TCD detector
  • As the detection method is based on thermal conductivity, carrier gas conversion requires more detailed application knowledge.
ECD detector
  • Make up gas would have to remain as nitrogen or Methane/Argon mixture for the detector to function.
PHDID detector
  • Will not function correctly with hydrogen carrier gas.

Conclusion

If these guidelines are considered, you will have the confidence to convert from helium to hydrogen carrier gas, thus increasing your sample throughput and reducing costs, while still providing accurate and reliable results that are fit for purpose.

💡💡💡 ChromSolutions Ltd

What we offer at ChromSolutions is our wealth of experience in analytical instrument sales and support (over 110 years distributed through the members of our company). We can help you from defining your requirements to the implementation of a robust analytical method fit for purpose.

Selection fro dozens of Helium to Hydrogen literature available in the LabRulezGCMS library

  • Hydrogen: A Superior Carrier Gas Alternative to Helium (Applications | 2009 | Merck)

  • How to Combat the Helium Shortage: Making the Switch from Helium to Hydrogen or Nitrogen (Presentations | 2022 | Agilent Technologies)

  • Addressing gas conservation challenges when using helium or hydrogen as GC carrier gas (Technical notes | 2022 | Thermo Fischer Scientific)

  • Shimadzu’s Recommendations for Dealing with Current Helium Gas Shortag (Presentations | 2022 | Thermo Shimadzu)

  • 7 Steps to changing carrier gas from Helium to Hydrogen (Technical notes | 2016 | Peak Scientific)

  • Ballooning helium costs keeping you up at night? Try Hydrogen and Nitrogen as Alternative Carrier Gases (Presentations | 2022 | Agilent Technologies)

  • Countermeasures and Solutions for Helium Gas Supply Shortages - GCMS (Presentations | 2022 | Shimadzu)

  • How to Combat the Helium Shortage: Making the Switch from Helium to Hydrogen or Nitrogen Carrier Gas (Presentations | 2019 | Agilent Technologies)

  • FAMEs analysis method revalidation from helium to hydrogen for GC (Applications | 2015 | Peak Scientific)

  • GC & GC/MS Helium to Hydrogen Conversion Quick Reference Guide (Guides | 2022 | ChromSolutions)

  • How to convert helium to hydrogen as a carrier gas in gas chromatography (Technical notes | 2013 | Parker Hannifin)

  • The Effect of Draw-out Lens Diameter on Sensitivity of GC-MS analysis (Applications | N/A | Peak Scientific)

  • From Helium to Hydrogen: GC-MS Case Study on SVOC’s in water (Presentations | N/A | Thermo Fischer Scientific)

  • Conversion of GC/MS Methods From Helium To Hydrogen Carrier Gas (Posters | 2013 | Agilent Technologies)

  • Helium What is the current cost to labs? (Technical notes | 2015 | Peak Scientific)

  • Impact of GC Parameters on The SeparationPart 6: Choice of Carrier Gas and Linear Velocity (Guides | N/A | Restek)

  • How to Convert from Helium to Hydrogen as a Carrier Gas in Gas Chromatography (Technical notes | 2012 | Parker Hannifin)

  • Fast GC-MS Analysis of Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds: Migrating from Helium to Hydrogen as a Carrier Gas in US EPA Method 8270 (Applications | 2016 | Thermo Fischer Scientific)

  • Benefits and Considerations of Converting to Hydrogen Carrier Gas (Technical notes | 2013 | Restek)

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Substitution of Helium as Carrier Gas in Gas Chromatography by Hydrogen. Part III. – Sample Introduction and Detectors (Scientific articles | 2013 | Kvasny Prumysl)

  • The Use of Hydrogen Carrier Gas for GC/MS (Technical notes | 2012 | PerkinElmer)

  • The Use of Alternative Carrier Gases in Gas Chromatography (Technical notes | N/A | SCION Instruments)

  • Helium, Hydrogen, or Nitrogen—The Choice is Yours: Unique Rtx®-CLPesticides Column Set Provides Optimal Results for Organochlorine Pesticides GC-Micro-ECD Analysis Using Any Carrier Gas (Applications | 2014 | Restek)

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Substitution of Helium as Carrier Gas in Gas Chromatography by Hydrogen. Part I. – Technical and Safety Aspects (Scientific articles | 2013 | Kvasny Prumysl)

  • Moving from Helium to Hydrogen as a Carrier Gas for the Thermo Scientific ISQ GC-MS System (Applications | 2012 | Thermo Fischer Scientic)

  • Optimized PAH Analysis Using Triple Quadrupole GC/MS with Hydrogen Carrier (Applications | 2020 | Agilent Technologies)

ChromSolutions
 

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