A Practical Guide To Selecting Ion Chromatography Systems

Ion chromatography refers to the separation of polar molecules and ions based on their chemical attraction to the ion separator. Ion exchange chromatography systems are used to separate and purify ionizable molecules like vitamins, antibiotics, DNA, nucleotides, enzymes, peptides, and proteins.

IC systems are used in various industries like chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, environmental, and manufacturing. Here, we have shared a practical guide to selecting ion-exchange chromatography systems. 

Important Facets of IC Systems 

Not all ion chromatography systems are built the same. Their differentiation is based on capacity, selectivity, speed, and sensitivity. Some of the important components are chromatography data system, detection, suppression, column technology, column head, and autosampler.


It is used to prepare liquid samples. Autosamplers increase sample consistency and reduce the risk of contamination. These components vary in the range of sample volume and number of samples. When choosing an IC system, you need to ensure that the sample volume range and increment and the number of sample positions are considered.

Eluent generator

You have the option of buying eluent from the market. However, the risk of contaminants prevents companies from doing this. Most IC systems come with an in-built eluent generator that is delivered to the column head. The eluent generator charges pure deionized water. The choice of the eluent generator is an essential factor in selecting IC systems as it affects the system’s speed.

Column Head 

The column head moves the eluent and sample through the column. The column technology in the IC system determines the type of pump head used in the system.

Column Technology

It determines the selectivity of the IC system. Hence the selection of the column rests on the types of ions that need to be detected. There is a wide range of column technology available depending on the specific applications. 

Samples and eluents are corrosive. Hence, all components need to be inert. The system uses polymeric beads for the charged matrix that is used to pump the solvents. The structure and size of the polymeric beads determine the sensitivity and speed of the IC system.  

Depending on the choice of the column, the pressure and system flow can differ. The maximum pressure range of the column is around 2.5 to 34 MPa. The column flow velocity is measured as mL per minute. 


It is a crucial component of the IC system. It nullifies eluent allowing the system to detect required Ions in the solution. The choice of suppressor depends on various factors like the kind of eluent used, the types of ions that need to catch, and the presence of organic solvents in the process. 


The charge detector comprises an electronic cell with an alternating current.   The charged molecules are attracted to the cathode or anode. The IC system measures the charge flux over a specific period. The collected data is fed into the system for further analysis. 

Chromatography Data System

It is a crucial component of the IC system used in the final stage of analysis. Every IC system manufacturer uses proprietary software. Hence, you may find differences in presentation style and additional features.

To sum up, these are essential factors that you need to consider when buying ion chromatography systems.


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