Gas chromatography is the main technique we use to separate out the individual components of very complex mixtures. We often work on petroleum samples, which are composed of many hundreds of thousands of different compounds. High resolution gas chromatography using fused silica capillary columns is the ideal method to obtain maximum separation of compounds over a wide range of molecular weights. Compounds must be volatile in order for this to work. Therefore, in the case of complex lipids from microbes and environmental samples, we often must hydrolyze and derivatize in order to obtain the core components in volatile form. These lipid subunits include fatty acid methyl esters and trimethyl silyl ethers of sterols and hopanoids.
- Agilent 6890 with a Gerstel PTV (Programmable Temperature Vaporizing) inlet