Guard columns are short (10 mm length) chromatographic columns that can be connected in front of the HPLC column. The guard column purpose is to extend the lifetime of the HPLC column by serving as a filter and a pressure dampener.
The guard column contains a cartridge which is packed with the same stationary phase as the columns. It will accumulate particle impurities from the inlet liquid phase at the head of the cartridge. These particles can be coming from poor quality solvents, sample precipitates, or salts generated by buffer incompatibility with the mobile phase’s organic component. Samples containing heavy oils or greases can also affect the lifetime of the column as these highly hydrophobic excipients will bind irreversibly to the stationary phase. A guard column will minimize these effects.
When the system pressure starts rising, it could be a sign that the guard column has reached its lifetime. The guard cartridge needs to be replaced to prolong the chromatographic performance of the main column.
A Guard starter kit for analytical columns contains one holder, one coupler and a 5 pack of cartridges of the actual silica packing.
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