Determination of diffusion coefficients by supercritical fluid chromatography: Effects of mobile phase mean velocity and column orientation

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The supercritical fluid (SCF) chromatographic technique based on the Taylor dispersion theory has been widely applied in determination of diffusion coefficients of various organic compounds in SCFs. This study was aimed to understand impacts of mobile phase mean velocity (MPMV) and column orientation on diffusion coefficient measurements. The benzene/SCCO2 system was investigated. Experiments were carried out at 40 and 60°C and 9-15MPa over a wide range of CO2 densities at varying MPMV and repeated in two column orientations, vertical and horizontal. It was found that both MPMV and column orientation significantly affected measurements of diffusion coefficients in SCFs. When the column was installed vertically, apparent diffusion coefficients obtained at relatively low CO2 density (<580kg/m3) increased with increasing MPMV over the entire velocity ranges. This results in a conclusion that diffusion coefficients cannot be accurately determined under these conditions using a vertically installed column. Under all other conditions, as MPMV increased, apparent diffusion coefficients initially increased, then remained constant, and finally increased again. The initial increase of apparent diffusion coefficients was associated with significant decline of curve-fitting errors, which indicates that the buoyancy effects are non-negligible and will cause larger errors. Accordingly, a new generalized D12-U diagram comprised of three regions is proposed. Column orientation affected diffusion coefficient measurements mainly by enhancing or weakening the buoyancy effects. When the column was installed vertically, the buoyancy effects were enhanced, leading to lower apparent diffusion coefficients, especially when CO2 density was relatively low. In addition, it was found that when CO2 density was below ∼580kg/m3, diffusion coefficients obtained when the column was horizontally installed were higher than those obtained when the same column was vertically installed. When CO2 density was above that value, opposite outcomes resulted. Finally, the horizontal orientation of a diffusion column is recommended for diffusion coefficient measurements by the SCF chromatographic technique, especially when densities of SCFs are relatively low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4454-4462
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Column orientation
  • Diffusion coefficients
  • Mobile phase mean velocity
  • Supercritical fluid chromatography
  • Taylor dispersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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