If you’re in the field of separation science, chances are you’ve heard of Flash Chromatography. For those of you who are not familiar, Flash Chromatography (also known as low pressure or medium pressure liquid chromatography) operates at a pressure of 50-200 psi and is a purification tool. This is when a medicinal chemist or an organic chemist synthesizes a new drug candidate molecule.
This compound must be “cleaned up” via purification prior to being evaluated and studied. This crude reaction mixture is passed through a flash chromatography column. Selective elution is then used to isolate the pure drug compound. An example of this is when you’ve ever taken a prescription medication, Flash Chromatography would have been used at some point in the research and development of that specific drug.
The first chromatography technique was invented in 1901 by Russian botanist Mikhail Tsvet. Chromatography is derived from the Greek word chroma “colour” and graphein “to write”. As such, chromatography is a family of analytical chemistry techniques for the separation of mixtures.
Flash Chromatography is primarily used for R&D (Research and Development) and has been around for many decades. And while flash is considered an “old” chromatography, it is the principal purification technique used in the pharmaceutical R&D endeavour because it is so versatile, easy to use and very fast. Hence why it is called Flash Chromatography.
Natural products such as dietary supplement ingredients and vegetable dyes are also using Flash Chromatography for its purification. It has also been used to purify and isolate cannabinoids for use in edible marijuana products. Flash Chromatography is a reliable chromatography purification tool with the potential for multiple, varied implementations and applications.
The science of Flash Chromatography is tangible and real, but there is an art, as well as science, incorporated with chromatography.
It is stressed that one must have a detailed comprehension of chemistry. Master thoroughly the mixture’s solubility/solvent compatibility and the target molecule’s potential reactivity toward silica or other such media.
Use of Term
I was able to purify my cannabis extracts by using flash chromatography.