Does flow direction affect the performance of the HPLC column?

Commonly there is a direction label on the HPLC column. It seems an international convention. Does the flow direction really affect the performance of the HPLC column?


Why do we mark direction on the HPLC columns?

In conventional use, the mobile phase has a specific flow direction in the column. For the old-fashioned columns, the filters and the structure in the inlet head and outlet head are different, like the pore diameter and the size of the filters. You have to use the column based on the direction. Otherwise, you can't get the right result.

But in the new-fashioned columns, the structures and filters are the same at both ends. There are not as many restrictions on the packing process and the column usage as before.

For HPLC column suppliers like us, this direction is also the packing direction.

Is it possible to use the HPLC column in the opposite direction?

If you want to use the column in the opposite direction, that's really okay in theory. Just make sure that the flow direction is the same for each test.

For the repeatability of application performance, each testing has to use the same direction. The results will be different in different directions. Because the properties of the two ends may change during use, like impurities content, resin fragments, blocked frit. Some columns will collapse at the inlet, because of the bad resin packing process. Some packing materials will break with many fragments. These fragments will block the frit.

We highly recommend you to use the column based with the direction shown on the label.

When to use the column in the opposite direction?

We generally use the column in the opposite direction when cleaning column after usage. The purpose is to clean the frits and the resin inside of the column. For HPLC column regeneration, please check our next article.

GALAK ChromatographyAuthor

Tian Jing
Manager & Engineer in GALAK Chromatography. Master of Chemical Engineering.
During my college study, I found liquid chromatography to be a profound subject. I know the painful struggle a novice needs to go through to get started. I share this article to help you solve your problems quickly.

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