Learn how to make liquid chromatography more sustainable by getting an overview of possible approaches.

To enhance the sustainability of liquid chromatography, this article from issue 15 of the Analytix Reporter suggests three key strategies. First, switch to eco-friendly solvents like water and ethanol, reducing environmental impact. Second, optimize chromatographic methods by using smaller, more efficient columns to decrease solvent consumption and waste. Finally, invest in modern, energy-efficient equipment capable of recycling solvents, further minimizing ecological footprints. This integrated approach not only makes the process greener but also maintains the performance standards of traditional chromatography methods.

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Liquid chromatography is a widely used analytical technique in various fields such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food and beverage, environmental monitoring, and more. The most popular type of liquid chromatography is reversed phase (~>75%). Up until now, the technique often employs acetonitrile and relatively large columns (the most used column dimension still is 250 x 4.6 mm). However, there are a few options for adjusting the mobile phase to improve the sustainability of chromatography without compromising its performance.


One of the biggest environmental impacts of liquid chromatography is the use of solvents. Replacing hazardous solvents with more environmentally friendly options such as water, ethanol, or other organic solvents that are bio-renewable, safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable can significantly reduce the environmental impact. Green solvents are an important component in making liquid chromatography more sustainable in general. However, higher viscosity/ backpressure, UV cut-off, and temperature limits of the used solvent system might need to be considered. For some examples of green solvents potentially to be used in liquid chromatography please refer to the full article.

It is important to note that not all green solvents are suitable for every chromatographic application, so users should carefully consider the specific properties and requirements of their method before selecting an alternative green solvent. Also, for validated methods, it is not allowed to make any changes in mobile phase composition according to Pharmacopoeias without full re-validation.


Another set of improvements is related to the method setup and different instrumental solutions, and include:

  • Optimized methods
  • Use “greener” equipment
  • Recycle waste
  • Choose sustainable suppliers
  • Consider alternative methods

See more details on these points in the full article.


By considering and adopting the above-mentioned strategies, in particular, the reduction of column dimensions, liquid chromatography can be made more sustainable, reducing its environmental impact and contributing to a more sustainable future.

Visit SigmaAldrich.com/sustainable-chemistry to find out more.

*The life science business of Merck operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada.

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