Articles and Applications
Talk of a helium crisis following the shortage of 2012/13 appears to have subsided thanks to increased worldwide production, with labs now readily able to obtain helium. Here we look at what has happened over the last 2 years since the global helium shortage was the hot topic in GC, where do we currently stand and what is the outlook in the short term?
Results are used in court to provide quantitive levels of BAC, which makes it one of the most commonly practised analyses in forensic laboratories. The large number of samples and requirement for speed of sample processing mean that analysis needs to be conducted quickly, whilst giving reliable and accurate results.
Changing carrier gas from helium to hydrogen does not always present an opportunity for faster sample analysis. Method revalidation can be simplified by keeping the new method as close to the old method as possible, which will limit changes to sample selectivity and resolution whilst maintaining the retention times of analytes.
Although there is now less concern about its availability, the price of helium is set to continue to increase meaning that cost-effective alternatives are still attractive to analytical labs.
Summary Labs worldwide have recently found that helium has been in short supply, leaving a number of labs without carrier gas. Added to this, helium prices have doubled over the past 10 years causing a number of labs to look into alternative carrier gases for GC, such as nitrogen and hydrogen. As well as lower price and unlimited availability, hydrogen has a number of potential advantages over helium, including potential for faster throughput, improved chromatography and better sample resolution.