Investigating the Effect of Column Geometry on Separation Efficiency using 3D Printed Liquid Chromatographic Columns Containing Polymer Monolithic Phases
Effect of column geometry on the liquid chromatographic separations using 3D printed liquid chromatographic columns with in-column polymerized monoliths has been studied. Three different liquid chromatographic columns were designed and 3D printed in titanium as 2D serpentine, 3D spiral, and 3D serpentine columns, of equal length and i.d. Successful in-column thermal polymerization of mechanically stable poly(BuMA-co-EDMA) monoliths was achieved within each design without any significant structural differences between phases. Van Deemter plots indicated higher efficiencies for the 3D serpentine chromatographic columns with higher aspect ratio turns at higher linear velocities and smaller analysis times as compared to their counterpart columns with lower aspect ratio turns. Computational fluid dynamic simulations of a basic monolithic structure indicated 44%, 90%, 100%, and 118% higher flow through narrow channels in the curved monolithic configuration as compared to the straight monolithic configuration at linear velocities of 1, 2.5, 5, and 10 mm s-1, respectively. Isocratic RPLC separations with the 3D serpentine column resulted in an average 23% and 245% (8 solutes) increase in the number of theoretical plates as compared to the 3D spiral and 2D serpentine columns, respectively. Gradient RPLC separations with the 3D serpentine column resulted in an average 15% and 82% (8 solutes) increase in the peak capacity as compared to the 3D spiral and 2D serpentine columns, respectively. Use of the 3D serpentine column at a higher flow rate, as compared to the 3D spiral column, provided a 58% reduction in the analysis time and 74% increase in the peak capacity for the isocratic separations of the small molecules and the gradient separations of proteins, respectively.